Huntingdon students race to success

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Students at the Huntingdon campus of Cambridge Regional College are combining their love of motor sport with a future career as they provide full racing team support for a driver in the Historic Sports Car Club 70s Roadsport Championship.

The College's Motorsport group students, under the guidance and encouragement of course leader Lewis Beales, are studying on a Level 3, two-year BTEC Diploma course while providing a range of engineering services and race team support for driver Howard Payne in his 1972 Lotus Europa. This includes full race tuning and the final checks and adjustments required after qualifying, not just to pass scrutineering but to ensure maximum performance in the race itself.

The Championship sees 12 rounds of racing with the team from the Huntingdon campus of Cambridge Regional College attending every event, including at some of Britain's best-known circuits such as Snetterton, Donington, Cadwell Park and a special event at the home of British motor racing, Silverstone.

Results so far this season have been encouraging with the team currently occupying third place in Class C of the Championship.

Team Manager Lewis Beales comments: "We're doing well and as a previous Championship winning team, in a different category with a number of First places and podium finishes, we're always looking to improve. For the students, this is a real challenge. They are working on a vehicle that's approaching 50 years old, yet still squeezing every ounce of performance from it under highly competitive racing conditions."

The Lotus Europa in question is a mid-engined, modified road car based on original drawings done in 1963 by Ron Hickman, then Director of Lotus Engineering and the highly efficient aerodynamic design was later put into production by the legendary Colin Chapman.

While the students working on the car are well aware of its place in motor sport history, their interest in the sector is entirely contemporary, combining the study of automotive engineering theory with actual race day performance requirements.

Recent graduates from the course at Huntingdon are now employed in roles ranging from technician and sales consultant to engineering apprenticeships, competition engine rebuilding and model making, with distinguished organisations both local and national such as Lola, BMW, Sherwood Engines, TripleR Composites, Vindis Group and Geoff Richardson Racing Engines.

2014 graduate Daniel Knight became the first Huntingdon Alumni to join Oxford Brookes, the UK's foremost Motorsport University and was on the award-winning Oxford Brookes Formula Student race team in 2015.

Current student Nicholas Chatten is a valued member of the Historic Race team and also provides reporting on rounds of the Championship.

"Motorsport Engineering is a discipline in which the UK has always excelled," he says "In particular British designers, technicians and drivers are among the world's elite. For any student who wants to follow an exciting career path in a sector where we are world-class, working as part of a close-knit team and seeing the results of your work week in, week out, I'd definitely recommend this course and this College.

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