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Thorite's slick gearshift is key to Formula Student race car design

Thorite's slick gearshift is key to Formula Student race car design

Thursday 11th April 2013

Formula Student is the world's most respected educational motorsport competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Thorite is an important sponsor of the team from the University of Central Lancashire, UCLan Race Engineering, and has supplied a range of Norgren equipment to build a pneumatically operated, sequential, "paddle-shift" gearbox control system.

UCLan Race Engineering comprises 23 final year Bachelors and Masters students from the University's Motorsport Engineering courses, split into 3 design disciplines covering Chassis & Drivetrain, Aerodynamics and Electronic Systems.

The UCLan team is one of 53 from UK Universities, although the full Formula Student 2013 entry list takes in 141 entries from countries including India, Sweden, Oman, Canada, Nigeria, Russia and many European nations.

The competition requires each team to produce a prototype for a single-seat race car, for autocross or sprint racing, and present it to a hypothetical manufacturing firm. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain and reliable, but must also demonstrate high performance in terms of acceleration, braking and handling.

UCLan Race Engineering's car incorporates a number of innovative design features. These include a carbon fibre monocoque, the use of greener E85 fuel producing low emissions with greater power, fully adaptable aerodynamics and of course the driver-friendly control system with the "paddle-shift" sequential gearbox, launch and traction control.

As a breeding ground for future professional motorsport engineers the competition is supported by some of the industry's most famous names, including Ross Brawn OBE who is a Formula Student Patron and Team Principal of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team. A former Formula Student participant, Andrew Shovlin, now the Chief Race Engineer for the same F1 team, is very enthusiastic about the competition and said: "Formula Student helped me a great deal – I learned an awful lot and it is hugely valued within the industry."

All forms of motive power are allowed in the competition, including combustion engines, electric power and hybrids. The Formula Student final will be held at Silverstone race circuit in July and is expected to be heavily supported by motorsport personnel and engineering professionals, as well as many students and their families.

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