2016 Competition Recap

The 2016 Competition started for us with some frantic packing of both cars, our workshop full of tools and enough camping gear to house a small city. We finished packing late and all headed home to try and get enough sleep for the long journey ahead. The morning came and we all found our way to University, did some final packing, checklists were handed out, radios were checked, with everyone accounted for, it was time to hit the road.

The first day of travelling went smoothly and team spirit was good even though we didn’t have Rat (Our Electric Vehicle) running yet and we knew some hard work was ahead. After a long day or driving we arrived at Dubbo late and were finding it difficult to locate anywhere open to get some dinner. After a few calls around we found the Milestone hotel was open and they had a parmy special on. The single cook who was on must had loved practically everyone ordered one as they came out nice and quick. Full stomachs we headed back to the hotel and packed it in for the night.

Day two of travelling didn’t go quite as smooth. One of the springs on our trailer cracked, but because we travelled as a group it was easily spotted by the car behind. We found a local engineering shop at Narrendera and they made us a new spring and a few hours later we were on our way. We dropped off Rat car at RMIT where they had had graciously offered us the use of their workshop to get it  going.

Final preparations were made for competition the next day to make sure everything was competition legal and running smoothly. We set up an outside workshop at the campground and some of the team  continued work at RMIT. We arrived at Calder Park the next day with both cars running and were ready for scrutineering and the static events. The static events included Presentation, Design and Cost. While both cars did well in all categories, Pelican (our internal combustion car)  came second overall for cost which was a fantastic achievement. We split team members between the events and showed the judges what professional, young student engineers can do.

Pelican had great success being the first car to successfully pass scrutineering with the only issue being the muffler being too noisy. A quick part was manufactured to reduce the noise, and it passed without any problems. EV passed all electrical and mechanical parts of scrutineering but things weren’t so smooth when it came time to do the brake test. It was the first time the car had driven under its own power which is not an ideal environment to run the car for the first time.  Excitement was high and we all gathered on the side line to see Rat go. Unfortunately, her first drive would be her last. As she approached the breaking point, the rear beam came loose, a pulley and shock were bent, links and rod ends snapped and parts of the brakes lay on the tarmac. Devastated we rolled over a trolley and took Rat back to our pit. The damage was assessed we decided the car  could not compete this year, as so many custom parts damaged. But not too worry even though we build two cars we’re very much one team and Pelican was still in the race.

By this stage in the competition, dynamic events had started and Pelican was putting some times down in both acceleration and skidpad. The car was performing well but we still knew we could get more out of it. We sent her out for another acceleration run and from the sideline all looked well, but the marshal had called the car off the track so we all ran up to see what had happened. To add to our devastation, a big end had gone and the car was out of the race. Without any chance of repairing our cars we had the chance to relax and enjoy the competition and that’s exactly what we did. Some of our members volunteered to be marshals, while others watched from the hills. We also got to help some of the other teams, by lending them various parts of our cars to fix theirs.

In all we had a great competition, we learned so much from our failures and we are excited to get back racing with our unnamed 2017 car.

John Keys
John Keys
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