Preparation for the 2017 Formula Student Australasia competition was much more thorough and rigorous than previous years. With the goal of racing both the electric and combustion cars on track, we began testing much earlier and more frequently than we had in the past. After months of hard work put in by our day time ‘testing crew’ and evening ‘maintenance crew’, the countless hours spent practicing for the Static events, and with over 1800km of testing under our belts, the competition was finally upon us. We warmly welcomed our friends from University of Auckland and Griffith University back to our workshop and together we packed our trailers in preparation for the big weekend.
On the 7th of December, our team left the workshop in the early hours of the morning to arrive at Calder Park Raceway by 7am. We immediately set up the pits and had both cars side by side, first in line for Technical Inspection. The combustion car passed scrutineering and driver egress with flying colours. The electric car also had to jump through a few hoops to pass electrical scruit and mechanical scruit, once it passed as well, the team had time to run the required checks on the cars and practice for static events.
Friday began with Brake Test, followed by the Tilt and Noise Tests. Meanwhile, the combustion car Business Presentation marked the first static event of the day, followed by the Engineering Design Event for both cars at 10am and the electric car Business Presentation beginning at 2pm. Having passed scrutineering as early as possible with both cars, our team members were given enough time to change and gather relevant materials for each event with minimal hassle. We seized the opportunity to take the cars out onto the practice track for a couple of laps, and were fortunate enough to have our cars featured in a news segment on Channel 9. The combustion car Cost Event was set to begin at 3pm and the electric car Cost Event concluded the day at 5pm. With static events done and the cars ready to race, the team went back to camp to rest up for a much anticipated weekend of dynamic events.
Day 3 of the competition ran a different schedule compared to previous years. Instead of running both events concurrently, Skidpad was the first event of the day, followed by the Acceleration event commencing in the early afternoon. M17-C and M17-E quickly presented themselves as strong contenders, with both cars setting the fastest Skidpad times of their respective classes at 5.216 seconds for the combustion car and 5.306 seconds for the electric car. Following a quick break, the cars were back in action for Acceleration. The electric car set a time of 4.31 seconds early in the event, but our experienced Acceleration driver, Paul, was able to harness the full potential of the combustion car and surpassed the time set by the M17-E by a thousandth of a second. A little tweaking of our Launch Control system certainly didn’t go astray either. These times were not beaten until the University of Queensland Racing team set a time of 4.20 seconds, placing them in first place in the electric car Acceleration event. A new statics feedback initiative took place afterward, allowing judges to give overall feedback on the events and giving teams the opportunity to ask more specific questions. Static result announcements finished off the day, leaving the team in high spirits before the biggest day of the year.
Monash Motorsport set a high standard across the board in the static events, placing first for both categories of the Engineering Design and Business Presentation Events, alongside a strong third and fourth for Combustion Cost Event and Electric Cost Event respectively.
Sunday marked the fourth and last day of the competition with everyone waking up full of nerves and excitement for a second day of dynamic events. The new schedule of dynamic events also brought about new rules. In 2017, Autocross and Endurance runs reverted to the European competition format, with Autocross limited to two drivers with two runs each, and Endurance now limited to a single heat – placing a much higher emphasis on a vehicle’s reliability. Autocross started at 9:30am, but there was a delay due to an oil leak on the track. However, our M17-C driver, Will, and our M17-E driver, Joe, were both able to set the quickest times, with both cars being very well adjusted on the track. As the day progressed, it was encouraging to see a crowd forming from the viewing area, full of families, friends and other spectators that came to support and cheer the teams on. The running order for the Endurance event had Combustion cars first, followed by Electric cars, with the line up being based on the Autocross times, slowest to fastest. Having placed first in Autocross, both M17-C & M17-E were set to run last in their respective Endurance category line ups. Our cars were about to be put through the ultimate test – tensions were high. They say it’s the most stressful 20 minutes of the Formula SAE-A year – they forget to mention that with two cars, you have to go through it twice. M17-C crossed the finish line first, after some blistering laps by one of our senior drivers, Andrew McCarthy, and the team was ecstatic. When M17-E finished off the Endurance heat, the feeling was indescribable. For the first time ever, having two cars present at the competition and successfully complete all dynamic events, the team was absolutely over the moon.
The team is proud to announce that Monash Motorsport placed first Overall in both the Combustion and Electric categories in the 2017 Formula SAE-A competition – making it one of the most successful competitions in Monash Motorsport history. We would also like to congratulate the University of Wollongong and Curtin University for placing 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Combustion category, as well as University of Technology Sydney and University of Queensland for placing 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Electric category.
A big thank you to SAE Australia for putting in the effort to ensure that this fantastic and rewarding Australasian competition would go ahead, despite the difficulties that arose earlier in the year. It was also encouraging to see teams pulling together during the time of uncertainty and we thank everyone who put in the effort to ensure the event went ahead. We enjoyed competing alongside everyone, and we cannot wait to see you all at the 2018 competition!
We would like to extend our gratitude towards Monash University, KTM Australia, Marand, Hare and Forbes, Wirawaji, Form-a-Sign, ZF Group, PhoenxPLM, Wago and Calm Aluminium; thank you for your generosity and invaluable support throughout the year. Without the help of our sponsors, we would not have been able to achieve what we did in 2017.
Finally, we would like to thank our academic advisors, valued sponsors and industry partners, family, friends and our supporters from around the world who have encouraged us to overcome the trials and tribulations of competing in Formula SAE, resulting in the achievement of the goal we set at the beginning of the year. 2017 has laid the foundation for a bigger and more ambitious 2018. This year we plan to embark on a Europe campaign, competing with both the electric car and combustion cars at the Formula Student UK, Austria and Germany competitions. Monash Motorsport looks to make its 2018 even bigger than its 2017, and we’d love to have you along for the journey.
Without further ado, here are the official results from the 2017 Formula SAE- Australasia competition:
M17-C in the Internal Combustion category:
Engineering Design: 1st
Business Presentation: 1st
Total points: 959.4
M17-E in the Electric category:
Engineering Design: 1st
Business Presentation: 1st
Total points: 919.4