On track to go the distance

22:24, Nov 15 2012
Formula SAE-A
TAKING IT TO THE TRACK: Five Waikato University mechanical engineering students – from left, William Stewart-Smith, Isaac Hayes, Kirk Sweeney, Brenna Rietema and Mitchell Sanson – have designed a car to race in the Formula SAE-A at Victoria University in Melbourne next month

It is a feat many of us would never take on, but five sprightly young lads from Waikato University have built a sports car to take to a racing competition in Australia next month.

The students have built a car that has the motor of a GSX-R 600 (a Suzuki sport bike) in it and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 160kmh.

But engineer William Stewart-Smith said they will not need to reach those speeds in the competition.

"The tracks are more about agility and good acceleration rather than racing," he said.

Mr Stewart-Smith said his team was one of the smallest in the competition, with only five members, compared with some 40-strong teams.

"In that respect, we are kind of the underdogs, but we work hard and we work well together," he said.


The competition runs from December 6 to 9 and comprises a range of events, including judging on the design of the car, the potential production cost of the car and the marketability of the car along with an acceleration race, a skidpan, a high-speed time-trial lap and the 23-kilometre endurance race.

Mr Stewart-Smith said a lot of teams struggled with the endurance race because they based their car on performance alone.

"We've tried to build a compromise between performance and strength," he said.

"We've tried to minimise going complex. We've focused on doing everything well rather than doing really complex things."

He said the car had cost $3000 to build but could be worth about $25,000.