Last weekend, the College’s Greenpower Team competed in the International Final at the Rockingham Motor Speedway. Following their successful race at the Castle Combe circuit in September, where they finished quickest kit car, the team were highly motivated to impress in the season finale.
The weekend saw the team face a number of challenges. Firstly, the car had to be properly set-up for the initial 90 minute race. Previously, the team had been used to only racing for 60 minutes. Gear ratios had to be adjusted and battery management ensured the car would last for the full race distance. The team also head to deal with challenging weather conditions, as heavy rain impacted on the team’s practice time and demanded extremely skilful driving during the race. That didn’t faze the team as they rose to each challenge and even exceeded the team’s achievements from the previous year.
The car passed Friday morning’s scrutineering session with a clean sheet and the team set about rehearsing pit stops and driver changes in preparation for their first race; the kit car final. The race itself proved an exhilarating one for the team. Wayne Weedon, Engineering lecturer at The College and the team leader, claimed that to call the race exciting ‘would be an understatement’.
The team’s first driver Finn Burns, a second year Cobham apprentice, surged from 50th place on the grid to the top 10 in his half hour stint as he established an impressive driving rhythm. Finn explained that he enjoyed using racecraft skills he had learned both from his time with the Greenpower team and studying F1, including how to use the tow from the car in front and slipstream when overtaking. The team’s second driver Rebecca Hockey, another second year Cobham apprentice, also really enjoyed the overtaking in the race, and even reached 4th place at one stage with a podium place in sight. Whilst ultimately the team had to back off in the latter stages of the race to conserve battery power, the car was expertly managed to an eventual 7th place finish.
The team then immediately turned their attention to the afternoon 20 lap F24+ race, with the team setting up the car for an estimated 50 minute drive. With several kitcar competitors, Will Taylor, the team’s third year Cobham apprentice driver, described his enjoyment racing in such a tight duel with the team’s rivals. The team eventually finished as the second placed kitcar, in 14th overall. Further up the field Matty Waine, another Bournemouth and Poole College student, managed a notable 5th placed finish driving for Siemens.
The weekend wasn’t over and on the Saturday in torrential rain, the team battled against five other kitcars to finish an impressive 13th place in the F24+ final, which was a full TWO LAPS ahead of the nearest kitcar competitor. On this occasion the car was driven by the team’s most experienced driver, 3rd year Cobham apprentice Natasha Hockey. Undaunted by the conditions, she treated the rain simply as an ‘extra element of excitement’. Her final position meant the team maintained their status as the leading F24+ kit car in F24+ races.
Describing the weekend overall, the whole team expressed their satisfaction with how the races had unfolded, from the overtaking to the friendly rivalry and co-operation with the Siemens team, which also sees several BPC students involved.
With the season now over, the team will continue to develop their cars and begin fundraising activities for the 2019 season. Next season will be the landmark 20th Anniversary of the Greenpower Education Trust and its racing series. The team expect to have new cars ready for the 2019 season which will be even more competitive.