Technicians and students from the University’s School of Engineering have taken to the track in the latest race of the MSVT Trackday Championship.
Last year, a team of students – supported by automotive technician and team leader Dale Cooper – built a Caterham racing car which they took around the country to compete against other amateur teams. This year, staff and students developed and heavily modified the car ready for the 2017 competition.
The current season is now in full swing, and, having had to undergo repairs following the previous race at the Silverstone GP, the team was raring to go at the purpose-built circuit of Rockingham in Corby.
Test sessions went as planned and the team made some gradual improvements to the car on the Saturday, with the first task being to prevent it bottoming out as it came off the high speed banking and onto the infield part of the track.
With the rear of the car raised and further adjustments to the damper, spring and anti-roll bar settings, the team managed to beat their target lap time of 1 minute 37.5 seconds by more than one second.
Sunday started with an early rise, with a rain shower making the first few laps of qualifying interesting due to Rockingham’s notoriously slippery track in wet conditions. With three mandatory laps on the board the team set off in pursuit of a decent grid position, qualifying 16th overall and fifth in class with a best time of 1 minute 37.595 seconds.
Forming up on row eight of the grid, the team had a lightning start, jumping the two cars of row seven as they headed through the banked turn one.
Rockingham being the circuit it is, the track provided everyone with plenty of space as the drivers all braked hard. The Kingston University team held its place through Deene and onto the right hander of Yentwood, with the car finding itself between Team Bacon Butty’s Porsche and the Renault of Team Banana Racing.
On the exit of the turn, the Renault ran a little wide and then came back on track, catching the Kingston car’s left hand side hard but thankfully the damage proved to be just cosmetic.
The team carried on into a battle with Apple Car Clinic’s Fiesta, eventually passed them going around the outside in the fast, fourth gear left hander of Graceland’s.
As mid-race approached, so did the mandatory pit stop. This gave the students time to fully inspect the damage and they decided to carry on, though the inspections did cause a slightly longer pit stop and dropped the car from fourth in class to eighth when they headed back out.
For the second part of the race it was a case of the team getting their heads down and concentrating on getting back up the field – clawing one space back in their group and several on track positions to finish a respectable seventh in class and 17th overall.
As the team now heads off into the summer break, the students have a few new repairs to make, together with deciding how best to tackle the remaining three championship rounds before heading back up to Snetterton in August for round five of the MSVT Trackday Championship.
For more information on the team, visit the Kingston University motorsport facebook page.