Our Greenpower project has progressed a lot over the last two terms.
We have taken a group of Technology students to Dunsfold aerodrome, home of Top Gear and successfully completed 5 hours of testing. We didn’t break down once.
We returned fully confident that our car would be equally successful at Goodwood, albeit that a few refinements needed to be completed by then. Work started on finishing the nose cone. The head rest needed to be added and suit all sizes of drivers, which we duly fitted. One area that needed improvement was changing the rear drive cog and this was machined up and fitted with a few days to spare. Other areas needing attention was the steering alignment, so the group set about measuring and refining the steering to reduce the wear on the front tyres.
With all last minute checks completed, we set off to Goodwood on Sunday the 10th of June 2018. We all arrived early and quickly set up in the pit area, as well as setting up a gazebo on the grand stand above the circuit. To our amazement the Goodwood press wanted to record an interview with our school and Thomas Leete was duly elected to be the subject of the interview. Thomas took it in his stride and did a sterling job in representing the school. After the interview we were ushered to the scrutineering bay and passed with flying colours, next was the first of two races.
Disaster!! An electrical connector had broken off and we had no power! Hastily Mr Rasarathnam and Mr Allen repaired the offending connector, after the team scrounged a connector and pliers form other teams. Team work. Eventually we repaired the car and Martha wheeled the car on to the grid with Dan as our first driver, just before the starter dropped the flag. Each driver drove for 30 minutes at a time, covering the 2.4 mile track in about 6 minutes. We soon learnt that those who had participated before knew a few tricks and they soon lapped us. Undeterred we carried on and still overtook a few other schools who were slower than us, or who had broken down. 30 minutes later it was our turn to pit and perform our next driver change, all went well until someone decided to try to change the batteries at the same time and we received a penalty for that. As the race went on we were 39th out of 82 starters, then the penalty was applied and we dropped down the score board to 67th. Another 30 minutes later and another driver change, fortunately this went smoother and we quickly re-joined the race. About half way through the final driver stint and the batteries started to dis-charge and eventually Joel pulled over to the side of the track to wait for the recovery vehicle. On a positive note Joel claimed fastest time of the day of 40 mph, the only problem was it was on the back of the recovery vehicle! Race one over.
Race 2 started 3 hours later, so a lunch break took place and some covert pit walking to gain information to improve our car for the next race and future planning of the mark 2 car (more of that later). The race marshals called the entrants to the starting grid for our second race and we took our place towards the back of the grid. The flag dropped and off went Thomas, overtaking a few slower cars and being overtaken by some of the faster cars. The focus was on the number of laps and not speed, yet many schools seemed to go for speed and not endurance. After 30 minutes Thomas came in and Joel resumed his role in the cockpit, then completed his 30 minute stint. Joel returned to the pits and Dan jumped in for the final drive to the end of the session. Dan got to the end of the pit lane and a marshal stopped him, we were lying 42nd at this point. As time passed, it seemed an eternity watching Dan fiddle with his helmet strap to satisfy the marshal. The longer it went on, the more we counted the cars passing us by. Eventually the marshal was satisfied and Dan re-joined the race, we were now 49th. The car was getting slower now and again the batteries showed signs of dis-charge, just as they had in the previous race with Joel. The inevitable happened and Dan ground to a halt on the side of the circuit. The recovery vehicle arrived and picked him up, returning him un-ceremonially back at the pits. From this point onwards we watched the live timings of the other schools circulating the track, grinding to a holt as their batteries died. By the end of the race about a third of the grid had dropped out due to battery failure, all running the same chassis as us.
At the end of the event we had beaten a number of local schools and a college that had raced before and we had succeeded in finishing at our first attempt. Now for our next car……………………
Since our testing at Dunsfold aerodrome and subsequent races at Dunsfold and Goodwood, our race car team has increased. The greenpower team has grown to 12 active members ranging from Y7 to Yr11, all keen to update our first car and modify our second car. Yes, we have another car and it is already driving around the playground! We were able to purchase a car that had been built by Rolls-Royce Aero-engine apprentices ten years ago, they’d built it for a Yorkshire Girl’s High school and it had been left in a store room for over ten years. The team have started to upgrade the safety cell and some smaller areas to meet the current regulations, so it can join our MK1 car in next year’s race programme.
We’ve come a long way in less than a year, from a pile of bits in the corner of a room to, a completed race car that has competed at two circuits and another close to race space. Most importantly, the group of youngsters involved in Greenpower challenge has grown from four to twelve and includes both boys and girls.
All of this activity would not have been possible if it had not been for the generous sponsorship we received from our own Headteacher, Mr Panayiotou and Mr Peter Webb (MD of ETI). In fact, Mr Webb is keen to sponsor our next car, as we intend to build our own ground up design and build in house.
Our Greenpower team are already coming up with ideas, so watch this space next year. In the meantime, if you know of anyone who would be prepared to assist us with materials or specialist skills in helping us build our new car. Please contact us in the Technology department, we would love to hear from you.