Published: 19 September 2013

Surrey races to ninth place in fiercely fought Formula Student 2013

The University’s in-house racing team achieved its best result yet at this year’s Formula Student – the world’s largest student motorsport event, which challenges entrants to design, build and race a single-seater racing car from scratch.

Team SURTES (Surrey University Racing Technology Engineering Solutions) was placed ninth among UK universities – and won third place in the acceleration event – at the 15th annual Formula Student, which saw over 2,000 of the world’s most talented young engineers from 27 countries descending on Silverstone race circuit in July.

The result of a year’s blood, sweat and tears for engineering students, Surrey’s bespoke car featured a hybrid carbon fibre monocoque and tubular steel space frame chassis, a modified Honda engine and a fully customised, double wishbone suspension. The 18-strong SURTES team was represented at Formula Student by a core team consisting of Nic Gonella, Dan Hook, Dave Holcombe, Adam Hoskin, Tim Bingham, Angie Acaster, Harry Bradley, Ioannis Kakaviatos, Chris Garratt, Ge Ge Leung, Oli Pont and Grace Carr.

Along with over 100 other entrants, the SURTES car was put through a rigorous set of tests, including a gruelling 22km endurance time-trial, a half-mile sprint and a 75m drag test. The team was also tasked with making a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style presentation to a hypothetical manufacturing company, demonstrating their business presentation and costing skills. The SURTES team performed well overall – securing ninth place among 50 UK universities and 32nd place overall – while they excelled themselves in the acceleration event, coming third.

Having won its highest placing since first entering Formula Student five years ago, the SURTES team will be using this year’s experience as it begins work on the 2014 car – with a focus on reducing the car’s mass and further developing the drivetrain.

Organised by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and heavily supported by the motorsport industry, Formula Student has grown in size and reputation every year from its first incarnation in 1998 when just seven teams competed. The 2013 event was a truly international competition, attracting teams from as far afield as Oman, Nigeria and Pakistan, with nine teams from India.

A valuable opportunity for students to showcase their technical, engineering, design and manufacturing skills and compete at international level, it is seen as one of the world’s best training grounds for young engineers. With Formula Student alumni now occupying senior positions at nearly every Formula One team – it is the event for those wanting a career in Formula One.

As a ‘warm up’ for Formula Student 2013, Team SURTES also demonstrated its engineering and racing skill during the inaugural Formula Student Diesel Eco Driving Challenge in June. The three-day driving event involved 46 UK universities driving the length of the country from London to Aberdeen in relay, with Team SURTES Technical Director, MEng student Nic Gonella taking Surrey’s 80-mile stint from the University campus to the University of Sussex.

Speaking of the Formula Student experience as a whole, Nic Gonella says: “I’ve found Formula Student to be one of the most rewarding and educational experiences. An indication of the popularity of the project is the number of people willing to give up their time to help design and manufacture the car. This is epitomised by the students who give up a significant amount of their summer holiday to be part of the team at the competition every year.”

Watch a video of student Harry Bradley talking about his placement year with the Formula Student team at the University of Surrey.

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