Cape Speed on a race to success

The race car that qualified to take part in the Formula Student competition.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s motorsport team, Cape Speed, will not be taking part in this year’s Formula Student (FS) competition, despite qualifying for the event.

Cape Speed had to pull out of this year’s competition, which takes place from Thursday July 14 to Sunday July 17, in the UK, as they could not secure funding for the trip.

FS has become Europe’s most established developmental motorsport competition.

Backed by industry and high-profile engineers, the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers.

Universities from across the globe are challenged to design and build a single-seat racing car to compete in static and dynamic events, demonstrating their know-how and testing their car’s performance.

Felicity Harris, CPUT faculty advisor for the Motorsport Programme, says they are now looking to compete at other Formula Student events happening towards the end of the year in the southern hemisphere.

“We managed to secure funding for the building of the vehicle, but could not secure funding for the logistics, which is around R1.8 million.”

Cape Speed is the only team in the Western Cape, and one of two in South Africa, which has landed the opportunity in the past to participate in this event.

Ms Harris said the teams endured a rigorous testing process.

“The selection criteria for participation in FS are stringent and CPUT is the only South African higher education institution to have qualified and participated in the event.

“This accolade is a major achievement for the team, department, faculty and CPUT as a whole.”

The Cape Speed team made their debut in 2012 with their car, “Ibhubezi”.

The team of 12 students placed 66th out of 102 teams.

Work on the 2014 car began in 2013, when students conceptualised their design using state-of-the-art 3D-design programmes.

That car, “Prins”, was built with light-weight composite materials. The 2014 team of 18 students placed 45th out of 114 teams.

Cape Speed team leader Neeta Makan has been involved in the Formula Student project since 2014.

“I started as an intern at the Technology Innovation Agency’s (TIA) Adaptronics Advanced Manufacturing Technological Laboratory (AMTL) at CPUT and got involved in the manufacturing processes of the 2014 race car.

“During the duration of my studies in 2015, I got involved in the design and manufacturing processes of the 2016 race car.”

Ms Makan said the 2016 race car had taken about eight months to manufacture.

“We split into a technical and a non-technical team, where there are 11 engineering students and five non-technical students involved in this project.

“The car is an internal combustion race car which roughly weighs 180kg.

“The race car has a hybrid chassis which has a carbon fibre front tub and a rear tubular frame. It has a 2016 450 KTM EX-C single cylinder engine and a Drexler drive train.

“The car is designed to go at maximum speeds of 110km/* at the competition therefore all components are designed according to the limitations of the race car,” she said.

The CPUT team consists of students from various disciplines including design, public relations, nutrition, photography and videography, engineering as well as alumni who coach new team members.

“The project values the input of past team members and continuously maintains contact with them to follow their success in industry, as well as to tap into their expertise gained and to get them to act as mentors for the present team,” said Ms Harris.

Ms Makan, 25, from Rylands, graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering in April but will continue to be a part of the team.

“We are looking to take part in the smaller competitions during the year.

“We are also going to take the race cars to schools to encourage school children to further their education and to show them that the possibilities are endless if you work hard,” she said.