The Kit Car team represented their country at the Greenpower International Finals last weekend in Rockingham, where they competed against the top eighty IET Formula 24 constructor teams from across the world, and brought home the island’s first international silverware from the competition.
The Greenpower International Finals are the pinnacle event in a yearlong Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project which uses the excitement of motorsport to foster an interest in, and provide relevance to STEM subjects.
Teams in the United States, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Ireland design, build and race single seat electric cars using cutting edge design software and materials. The cars are raced at regional heats, with qualification leading to a grid position at the International Finals.
Ballyclare Secondary School with all-Ireland champions St Cecilia’s College
Saturday provided an opportunity for kit based cars to race with Ballyclare Secondary School’s ‘Forget Fossil’ car placing 17th, mid table and a substantial result for the team and the island.
Off the track, the team were charming, well mannered, and supportive to other teams. When an international team were struggling with a catastrophic steering problem, the Ballyclare team proposed a simple and effective repair allowing the team which had travelled a vast distance, to race competitively and avoid a disappointing return home.
Then they did the unthinkable. With a window of three hours before the pits closed, the three girls and five boys embarked upon a complete dismantling of the Forget Fossil kit car so that the components could be transferred to a new, lighter aluminium chassis for the next day’s race.
The material for the aluminium chassis, supplied by Aalco, was welded in partnership with Allister Moore Welding who mentored the young team members so that they picked up experience in a specialised engineering process.
Carbon fibre body panels were created during a week-long placement with Wright Group, Ballymena, empowering the team with experience in cutting edge materials and manufacturing processes.
Some components could not be manufactured, and Chain Reaction Cycles stepped in to assist.
Stuart Christy, Regional Ambassador for Greenpower in Northern Ireland and Ireland said, “Normally when I describe to schools how long it takes to build a kit, I advise the teacher that the pair of us could built it in about 4 hours. To consider building a kit the night before a world championship final is a very brave decision. The Ballyclare Secondary School team stripped a kit and built their own car from scratch using their own aluminium chassis in an hour and three quarters. They even had time to get it scrutineered before the pits closed.”
Wallace Shanks, Robyn McConnell, Brandon McQuitty, Lois Sellar, Jay McKenna, Megan Reid, Michael Hamilton, Jordan Drummond