SA students' car takes on the world

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IOL mot pic jul5 CPUT FS Race Car 1 INLSA A group of 18 students from CPUT have qualified to take part in a worldwide competition for a racing car which they have designed. Picture: Tracey Adams

A group of South African university students who built a formula racing car between classes arrive in the UK today and will almost immediately start preparing to participate in a prestigious motorsport competition there next week.

Team Cape Speed, students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, left for Silverstone in the UK on Wednesday to compete in the Formula Student motorsport competition.

There, the single-seat racing car they constructed, dubbed Cape Speed, will compete against 110 teams from around the world.

The event will run for five days, from 11-15 July, and is considered to be Europe’s premier educational motorsport competition.

Cape Speed has put CPUT on the FS racing map.

The institution is the first university in SA to qualify for the competition, which is run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

“Excited and nervous”, was the general feeling at Cape Town International Airport among the team before their departure on Wednesday.

Vice-captain Michelle Minnaar, 23, who is doing her Master’s in mechanical engineering, was instrumental in constructing the cockpit.

“I’m very anxious about the event. We drained all the fluid from the car before it went on to the ship, so for me, getting there, and hearing the car start up again is the only thing that will relieve this anxiety,” Minnaar said.

Team captain Kerwyn Lategan said the pressure was on.

“People are expecting so much from us; we’re hoping to make it to the top 10 or to at least complete the competition without the car breaking,” Lategan said.

The students designed more than 300 components for the car. The project has taken three years to complete.

When they arrive at Silverstone, Cape Speed is set to undergo a series of tests and will receive points in addition to the points already received during the application process.

Fifteen students formed part of the project, 11 of whom left for the UK.

Each Facebook “like” or message of support with #capespeed powers the car around the miniature live Silverstone track, which will be exhibited at Canal Walk from 13-15 July. - Cape Argus

Fans can show their support with a “like” on Facebook at or a Tweet of support using #capespeed at @CPUTFormulaStud.

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