“You can’t assemble a winning car in fifteen minutes”3 min read
Recently, the smooth roads outside Block 13 was filled with students working on a model car as it prepared to maneuver around a slew of bright orange cones. Almost a decade-old salient feature of Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), the team members of Formula Manipal were testing their latest car for the upcoming Formula Bharat competition on January 26.
The team is confident of their chances and are determined to overcome their European misadventures of last year, when engine problems hindered the team. The team has had a history of taking part in foreign competitions, which indicates the organization’s reputation in the international circuit. However the last few outings have been disappointing compared to their early years. They have faced two engine related issues in Germany and Czech Republic, which hindered their chances to gain success. ”We took a hit in Czech Republic, but we figured out the issue and fixed it (a lubrication issue). However we weren’t left with much time to compete. If you don’t reach places on time, you are not allowed to compete. By the time we fixed the car by procuring an engine over-night, it was too late to participate. We have worked on our issues, and we shouldn’t be having any problems, hopefully,” elaborated Rakshith Ramesh, Team Manager of Formula Manipal. The upgraded FMX6 2.0 engine is now being used for the upcoming competition.
The Technical Side of It
The technical nitty-gritty’s of building a car is a convergence of a number of focused teams coming together. The structure subsystem looks after the chassis while the composites subsystem takes care of the body work, wings. The aerodynamics team focuses on designing the wings, the vehicle dynamics team that looks after the suspension, brakes, tires, the engine team looks after the engine, the transmission team looks after the gears and shifts while the electronics team looks after the ECU (Engine Control Unit). All the teams are inter-related and that ‘everyone works in harmony to get the best result’.Formula Manipal’s FMX 2.0 car tested inside the MIT campus || Photo Credits: Formula Manipal team
One of Formula Manipal’s main competitors – Orion Racing – are not taking part in the competition this year but there is very little room for error in the racing circles. “Our other main competitors are Pravega Racing from VIT. These guys were 200 points behind us last year, and they have a good car this year. For us in particular, our acceleration is faster, hence we will compete better and hopefully break our own record. Unless we have any mechanical issues, we should be doing it under 4 seconds,” he said.
The team however appears confident of their chances. “For Formula Bharat, the aim is the number one position. Formula Design Challenge in 2015 was the first competition in India, where we missed out on the first position by 4 points. Meanwhile the team that came third was 200 points behind us, so we are definitely aiming for a podium finish. We already hold two national records, which wasn’t broken last year. The 2015 record is still carrying on and we are planning to beat our own record this time, and we believe this is possible,” he elaborated.
Do they ever take a break?
The Formula Manipal workshop near Kamath Circle is round-the-clock with team members given special permission to work late into the night. “It’s a two-way thing. Quite a few people say we don’t have a life, which could be true, but we enjoy doing what we do. Hence we don’t complain. People can take a break when they want to, but when we’re close to a competition, you just can’t afford to relax. There is a reason we are right at the top in this country. If we want to excel, and the college funds us, and we need to show everyone results. You can’t assemble a winning car in fifteen minutes,“ concluded Rakshith.
Plagued with difficulties in the past, The Formula Manipal team doesn’t want to see any more of it. Their only answer was working twice as hard as before, and learning from their mistakes.