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Greenpower team speed to the finals at Silverstone

Last week saw eight Bryanston pupils travel to Silverstone to compete in the International Greenpower Finals. The finals comprised a practice session followed by the qualifying round and then the final itself, whereby Bryanston managed to qualify both their SPN1 and SPN2 cars for the F24 category final. Read Mr Moggeridge’s full report below:

Greenpower aims to enthuse pupils about STEM through the medium of competitive motor sport. Using standard batteries and motors, teams build electric vehicles with the intention of being able to cover the furthest distance in a 90-minute race. The team had entered events throughout the year at Goodwood, Castle Combe and Dunsfold, where they qualified.

In what was a long day, the pupils left the School at 5am to start their journey to Silverstone. Upon arriving at the well-known race track, the Greenpower team were required to put their cars through scrutineering, where safety checks are made on the vehicles to ensure they meet construction regulations. A variety of tests were completed ranging from structural integrity to brake functionality and both SPN1 and SPN2 passed without any problems.

The Greenpower team were then given a boost when the race numbers were issued, with SPN1 being promoted from 60 to 49 and SPN2 jumping to 99 from 520. These numbers related to the final position of the cars in all the qualifying rounds with the cars travelling the farthest distance attaining the highest position. The team then attended the drivers’ briefing before the first practice session.

The practice session brought its own drama to the day with a loud bang on the start line, when SPN2 sustained a puncture in the pitlane, and SPN1 prematurely running out of charge due to battery problems. The team’s efforts in the previous qualifying event at Dunsfold clearly had an impact on the batteries, where they had pushed the cars to the limit to ensure qualification to the finals. These problems were remedied for the qualifying round and meant both cars had reached the final.

The team were given a break before the final where tactics were discussed, cars were tweaked, and pupils given a chance to check out the competition. Members of the team entered the STEM marquee and were impressed with the quality of engineering on display. This provided the pupils with food for thought and the Greenpower team left the marquee with many ideas for how the cars could be improved.

The team returned to the track in the afternoon to compete in the final. Each car was given one last check before they set off to race for the title. Both cars started in steady fashion, gaining and losing places in equal measure and posting solid lap times. Unfortunately, the team were hit by technical issues with SPN2 being forced onto the rumble strips causing its chain to come off. At the same time disaster struck SPN1 when the isolator switch was kicked out of position, preventing it from being allowed back on the track by the marshals. The team were hit by more problems later in the race when SPN2 was hit by another car which caused its brakes to seize up, eventually affecting the battery. SPN1 however completed the race but was hampered by the severely depleted battery.

Despite the technical problems, the day was a huge success with both cars making it to the final. The pupils had a great time racing cars that they had designed and constructed. More importantly, they have continued to develop not only their manufacturing and design skills, but also skills employers and universities seek, such as problem-solving, resilience and, above all, teamwork. And of course, they can now claim to have raced in an international final at Silverstone!

A huge thank you must go out to the parents and other relatives of the team members who, not only at Silverstone but throughout the whole season have attended events and been extremely supportive. Thanks also to Amanda Lovejoy for running the hospitality gazebo, the catering staff for keeping us going with packed breakfasts and lunches, the Hsms for helping to get the pupils up in the morning, the transport team for preparing the minibus for us, and the staff that spent a long day looking after the pupils. The final and biggest thank you should go to the pupils themselves, who just got on and did everything that they needed to do. They were a real credit to themselves and the School.