OCT 12th 2014

On track today: Silent racers... the first Greenpower International final

Enthusiastic spectators, big grids, huge competitive spirit. That could easily define the Goodwood Revival, but today’s racing was altogether quieter. Well, the electric-powered racers were; the paddocks were abuzz with noise and excitement for the final of the 2014 Greenpower series. This is the first international final, drawing teams not only from all over the UK, but also as far afield as the USA, South Africa, Poland and Portugal.

The Greenpower Trust works with over 500 schools, colleges and universities to give students (over 9000 of them and counting) a route into engineering. The trust’s patrons are Lord March and David Richards CBE, chairman of Aston Martin and Prodrive.

Regional heats from all over the UK (including Goodwood) and other countries have brought over 100 team to the final, with three races today to determine the overall winner. There were two heats for Formula 24 cars (11 to 16-year olds) and one for Formula 24+ (16 to 24-year olds).

The cars themselves have to comply with certain regulations (the most fundamental being that they all use the same motor and 12v battery), but there’s plenty of scope for innovative design. You only need to look at the different shapes and sizes of the cars to appreciate that. Ullapool High School’s ‘catamaran’  style Insane Bolt couldn’t be more different to the oddly-named Brian from Sandbach High School, for instance.

On track, the cars set off in rows of five from grids of well over 50, each looking to travel furthest on their battery life. Off circuit, Greenpower’s sponsors lend their support with some big-ticket exhibits. How about a line-up that includes a McLaren P1, Formula E and the Nissan ZEOD Le Mans racer? That’s to name just three. Amid the frantic paddocks are two temporary structures; one that houses more exhibitors, another complete with a podium for presentations. The Gadget Show‘s Jason Bradbury was on hand to interview competitors for the big screen. It’s a big event.

And one that’s set to grow. Greenpower’s target is double the 9000 participating students by 2020, and increase its global reach. On the evidence of today’s final, it’s certainly making rapid progress. However big it becomes, it’s the Weald School that will always have the honour of winning today’s first international final.

 And the winners are…

IET Formula 24 winners The Weald School, from Billingshurst in West Sussex, claimed its second title, having won back in 2006. The Black Bullet team principal Keith Russell was delighted to have won this year.

“We lose as a team and we win as a team,” he said. “At the end of the event, all of the kids in our team will have gone home and told their families that the team won and that’s the important thing about the Greenpower initiative.

Cullimore Racing, led by Greenpower graduate and ambassador David Cullimore, raced their ‘Jet’ car to victory in the IET Formula 24+ final – the third time Cullimore Racing has dominated at Goodwood. From Cheltenham, David Cullimore is also currently on a placement at Red Bull Racing and is the most successful Greenpower participant during the 16 year history of the charity.

Cullimore said: “My car has remained fundamentally the same throughout my three years as champion, but there have been so many tweaks over the years that, aside from the basics, it’s changed quite a lot. The key is that you can’t stand still – you have to keep progressing in order to stay ahead of the competition.

“When I did Greenpower at school before going it alone with my own team, my maths grades weren’t good enough to do mechanical engineering at university, so I ended up doing industrial design. But I have learnt so many skills here at Greenpower that it’s really helped me progress in motorsport.”

The Silverline Corporate Challenge trophies were awarded to wrap-up the prize giving ceremony – with the Renishaw Plc ‘Reprobation’ team taking the accolade, having competed against other businesses including Jaguar Land Rover, Prodrive and Lockheed Martin.

With teams from the UK, South Africa, the USA, Poland, Portugal and Ireland this year’s final was appropriately given the title ‘International Final’ rather than a ‘National Final’, which is how it has been referred to for the last 15 years. Team South Africa comprised students from the Mandela School of Science & Technology in Mvezo, South Africa, built by Siemens – and this was the first time the students have ventured away from home soil.

 

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