Volume 95, Issue 94

Wednesday, April 3, 2002
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Cutting the hardware in half

American League full of contenders

Walt Disney's pissed

Engineers are revving their engines and heading to Pontiac

Engineers are revving their engines and heading to Pontiac

By Garth Mercer
Gazette Writer

Western's Formula SAE team is ready to race.

The Formula Society of Automotive Engineering team, comprised of approximately 30 engineering students, is quietly confident in the weeks leading up to the annual racing competition held at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.

The event, contested by over 120 universities from North America, begins on May 15. Each team's challenge is to design and build its own formula race car, including tuning its own motorcycle engine for this competition of engineering skill.

During the competition, the cars are put through extensive testing on all aspects of their performance. Although all-out speed is impressive, reliability is also a key, in accordance with the famous racing maxim, "to finish first, first you have to finish."

Last year, Western finished 37th out of the 123 teams present. Complacency has no place in racing and team co-ordinator Anthony Tummillo is hoping to do much better this year.

"We've done a lot of development on the engine, drive train, suspension geometry, centre of gravity, braking and dry sump oil system and the goal is to drop about 10 per cent weight [compared with last year's car]" Tummillo said.

Kurt Gyger, the team technical co-ordinator, also seemed pleased with the team's progress.

"We got the car done very quickly and a lot of innovation went into the drive train," Gyger said.

The team hopes to be the top Canadian entry this year and to avoid the reliability problems that plagued last year's car. To achieve these goals, the team has worked hard to get the car finished earlier this year in order to gain more test time prior to competition.

A big help to Western's campaign has been sponsors such as Siemens, Ford and Litens Automotive. With corporate help, the team is in a better position to reach their desired result.

With the screaming sounds of the finely-tuned engine being tested in the background and pistons moving at over 9,000 repetitions per minute, Jonathan Ryval echoed the team's positive attitude about this year's competition.

"The goal is for more power and driveability. Last year, the car made 45 feet per pound of torque and this year we're hoping for 50. We're hoping to go zero to 60 mph [98 kph] in the low three seconds. The team is working very well together – we should have some very good results this year." Ryval said.

The car will be initially tested early this month. Only then will the team know whether all the hard work, innovation and development on paper will translate into a better on-track performance.

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