Composite Engineering carbon fibre component design and engineering

Project Management

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Le Mans Sports Car Chassis

Design

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Hybrid car chassis

Engineering

A case study is here

High speed machinery

The Goodwood Festival of Speed

With out a shadow of doubt, the Goodwood Festival is one of the most glorious motoring events in the World today. Rather unbelievably, with each succeeding year, Lord March and his team surpass the quality of the previous year's event.

For this year's Festival, we had been invited to team up with a client, Cheshire Cycle Components (CCC) and together we have developed a vehicle for the 'Soapbox' downhill race. Other invited entries included the Bugatti Owners Club, Ford, G-force, Honda, Ilmor, Prodrive, Renault, Rolls Royce and the Vintage Sports Car Club. It had all the makings of a most interesting event.


'The Vehicle'

Bob Dixon, the Managing Director of CCC, had formulated a concept loosely based on one of his 'Windcheetah' recumbent vehicles, originally designed by Mike Burrows, inventor of the carbon fibre track 'cycle' Chris Boardman famously rode to victory in the Olympics. An example of this innovative machine currently resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York and is highly regarded as a beautiful design.

The Goodwood downhill race is divided into two distinct classes, fully faired 'Streamliner's and the slightly less sophisticated / expensive open class. The team elected to enter the latter owing to time constraints forced by business commitments.

The chassis for the vehicle was constructed from aluminium alloy and composite materials and several days were devoted to achieving the right profile for the external surface that was going to be left exposed. As gravity was to be the propulsive force, the team was obviously mindful of the dynamics. Particular attention was paid to weight distribution and friction and as much attention as time allowed was given to aerodynamic tweaking.

The bodywork was adapted from a production Windcheetah. Construction was completed with a day to spare. Though testing time was limited, the results were encouraging and the team looked forward to the race.


Practice

Recording the experience, Paul McBride says: "Soon after arriving at Goodwood we began to take in the wonderful atmosphere of the event and very quickly started to appreciate the competitive atmosphere among the other entrants for the downhill race. A great deal of fettling / tuning was evident within the paddock and it did not take long before everyone was surmising who would have the fasted vehicle and driver combination within their respective class.

Star drivers for the event were undoubtedly Vicky Butler Henderson and Tiff Needell who would be driving the immaculately presented Ford/Royal College of Art open class car. As several other well-known racing drivers were also entered, practice was going to be very interesting. Given the seriousness taken by other teams and the fact that we had not embarked on the project merely for the pleasure of taking part, the pressure on Bob, who was to be our driver, was mounting.

Our car performed faultlessly throughout the practice session. Contestants ran in pairs down the hill and we crossed the finishing line ahead of the other car. At the end of the session the times were read out over the public address system. I could not believe my ears. I was sure they said we had posted the fastest time. When the official results were handed out in the paddock it was true, not only had we posted the fastest time in our class we had actually posted the fasted time of the day! Rather a lot of fettling was carried out that evening on the slower cars and we ended the day on a high."


Overnight leader

"The first of Saturday's two timed races proved our confidence was not misplaced and we duly posted the fasted time of the day. The attention to detail we had invested in our vehicle was really paying off and we absolutely delighted with our progress so far. We had come up with what I would describe as a simple design, that was proving to be very efficient and obviously Bob Dixon was undoubtedly the 'Dark Horse' amongst the drivers. He was able to go flat out down the hill where some of the other drivers were braking for some of the bends. Bearing in mind that Bob was reaching speeds of 55/60mph at the bottom of the hill, it was not surprising some of the other drivers were using their brakes."


The final

"Sunday's race came round very quickly as Goodwood is a very sociable event and there is so much going on. We were feeling a certain amount of pressure as the final race approached, as we had posted such a fast time on Saturday and the times are aggregated over the two races we had a realistic chance of taking outright victory in the event."


Overall winner

Not only did the Windcheetah win its class, it proved to be the fastest 'Soapbox' of the weekend. Although in the final race Bob was just piped to the line, thanks to the previous day's victory margin, the team achieved the fastest overall aggregate time.

Paul concludes: "We had a wonderful time at Goodwood and our thanks go to Lord March for inviting us to a truly memorable weekend."


The 'spoils'

Bob Dixon receiving the Winners Trophy from Gordon Murray.


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