Yesterday a team of 10 Nexus students from Years 7 to 9 travelled to Predannack airfield near Mullion to compete in the Greenpower Regional Heats. Taking their electric car “Nexus One” out onto the track for the very first time against schools from all over the South West region, our team exceeded the high expectations we all had of them.
The Nexus team were taking part in the F24 Kit Car category for 11-16 year olds, all driving cars made from a ‘rolling-chassis’ kit. They would be driving at the same time as the F24 Scratch cars (built from scratch including the chassis) but not competing directly against them.
The day started early, leaving Nexus at 7am to arrive at Predannack in time to unload and prepare the car for a rigorous scrutineering which checked every aspect of the vehicle and drivers for safety.
A team briefing followed where the racing and track rules were laid out for everyone, along with detailed information about the track marshalls and the various coloured flags our drivers might see being waved. Every part of the 1.5 mile track was covered by marshalls and a recovery vehicle was on standby to retrieve any break downs.
At 10am the track opened for a 90 minute practice session, and we took full advantage of the time managing to get almost all our drivers out for a couple of laps to familiarise themselves with the circuit.
After a short break for an early lunch we were back up to the pit area ready for lining up on the grid for Race 1 which started a little late at 12:15. As a new team in our first year of racing we were placed on the back row of the grid, giving us plenty to aim at!
George P was our first driver, and he made an amazing start getting off the line and through about half the pack before some had even managed a few car lengths.
A half hour into the race and George was brought into the pits to hand over the driving to Max B in the first of our pit stops.
George had driven us into a good position and Max kept the pace up throughout the middle part of the race, before handing over to Will G at the second pit stop.
Being our first race, and despite plenty of practicing on the playground at Nexus, we weren’t sure how long our pair of 12v batteries would last, and sure enough toward the end of the race we could see other cars visibly slowing so we made the decision to have a swift third stop and to change drivers to our secret weapon – India F!
India drove through to the end of the race and our batteries lasted the distance.
Our race 1 result was better than we could have hoped – out of the 17 cars in the race 11 were in our kit-car class, and of those we came 3rd, placing 6th overall and covering a distance of 27 miles at an average speed of 17.8 mph.
After another short break for refreshments we were back onto the grid for the start of Race 2.
This time we were placed about half way down the grid and Corey W took the wheel, again getting off to a flying start and making up lots of places before the first corner.
Corey drove for the first half hour and then Milan L stepped into the seat aided by our all girl pit crew.
Milan drove a great pace and handed over to Fred J to bring us home. Our batteries once again looked to be lasting well, and we were convinced we had a really good shot at qualifying for the finals so we decided not to do a final pit stop and Fred drove for the last 45 minutes of the race – the longest stint of any of our drivers.
Our Race 2 result was equally as impressive as our first race. Of the 11 kit cars we came in 4th so a place down from before, but we completed an additional lap making our best distance of the day 28.5 miles at an average of 18.5 mph.
We missed qualifying for the finals by a couple of laps, but we gained a wealth of experience and knowledge and proved ourselves to be a reliable, consistent team – a force to watch out for in the future!
At the prize giving ceremony we were very pleasantly surprised to receive awards for:
- Best Newcomer Team – of the 4 new teams we came first
- Best Presented Team – the judges were wowed by our Nexus style!
- The IET Award – from the Institute of Engineering and Technology
We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has helped our team throughout the year and all the other students who took part in the Greenpower project but did not get selected for the final team. Many thanks to Simon Green, who has ably led the Greenpower Team at Nexus this year. In addition we would like to thank Rob Kellow of RGKellows for his continued support of the team and Nexus.