Formula Student is the world's most respected educational motorsport competition, originated by the Society of Automotive Engineers and run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Thorite, the UK's biggest distributor of pneumatic products & process systems, is now important sponsor of Huddersfield University's Team HARE (Huddersfield Automotive Racing Enterprise) and is providing know-how and pneumatic equipment to build an advanced, pneumatically operated, sequential "paddle-shift" gear change system.
Thorite's managing director, Stephen Wright, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Huddersfield team's endeavours, not least because he is a former Huddersfield University alumni, having gained his MBA there in 1989. Speaking of Thorite's involvement he said: "I'm delighted we have been able to supply pneumatic components, a compressor, air tools and technical assistance to help ensure Team HARE's gear changes are as slick and quick as possible. One of the team members, 23 year old Kyle Hinchliffe who is studying for a Master of Engineering degree has also been given a free place on one our regular Foundation in Pneumatics course, where he received both theoretical and hands-on experience of the latest pneumatic technology."
Team HARE's race car incorporates many innovative design features. These include carbon fibre suspension wishbones, 3D-printed intake manifold, tuned exhaust, lightweight carbon fibre bodywork and of course the advanced pneumatic control system for the "paddle-shift" sequential gearbox. The car is powered by a KTM EXC510 engine which produces 50hp and 43Nm, selected for its low down torque and low weight, which can propel the car to a gear-limited 87mph.
Formula Student attracts participation from over 500 universities around the world, with teams from the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, China, Egypt, India and many others. The competition culminates in a Final at Silverstone over the weekend of the 11th & 12th of July, where each team will have to demonstrate the abilities of their single-seat race cars including acceleration, cornering, braking and endurance, backed by a fully reasoned "Dragons' Den"-type business proposal to bring the car to production.
As a breeding ground for future professional motorsport engineers the competition is supported by some of motor racing's most famous names, with The Formula Student Final at Silverstone expected to be heavily supported by motorsport personnel and engineering professionals, as well as many students and their families.