The Richard Lander School Greenpower racing team attended the International Finals at Rockingham Motor Speedway over the 5th and 6th of October. The weather conditions were to prove decisive to the outcome of what was a very challenging competition.
The Greenpower Education trust is a charitable organisation setup to promote the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, through the design and build of electric racing cars. Races are held around the UK and also further afield in the USA, China, Brazil, and Europe. All cars run the same batteries and motor, and must aim to complete the greatest distance over a 90 minute race, two of which are run at each event.
Richard Lander School have had their best ever season following the 2017 World Championship win. Race wins were recorded at Goodwood, Castle Combe and at Predannack airfield on The Lizard, which put Richard Lander School on the top of the distance records prior to the finals, giving the team pole position for the Rockingham races.
The two day event included practice sessions on the Friday before the final races were run on the Saturday. The Friday saw fine Autumn weather with temperatures reaching 18 degrees and light winds. Many teams felt confident in their performance including Richard Lander, however the weather was due to change significantly for Saturday. The team awoke to very cold, wet and windy weather, which proved a game changer in terms of the cars performance. Richard Lander School ran the car during first practice to assess the difference in performance and found the weather was punishing the lap time by over 10 seconds a lap. This meant a change in gear ratio was needed to protect the battery life over the full 90 minute race.
The cars lined up for the start with Richard Lander’s car RLR 3 in pole position. As the flag fell, disaster struck, RLR 3 remained stationary as the rest of the field pulled away. The car was brought into the garage and the fault was traced to a freewheel mechanism failure, so no power was reaching the wheels. The part was replaced, refitted and the car sent out to compete but was in no position to win having lost half an hour of the 90 minutes. It would all have to come down to race 2 in the afternoon. Race 1 showed the full effect of the weather as many cars ground to a halt before the 90 minutes was up.
Race 2 saw the cars line up once again. Richard Lander would have to beat the distance set by the race 1 winners and previous champions Sandbach High School, as well as win the race. The pace set initially was not the fastest of the field, and RLR 3 settled into 5th place as the opposition bolted into the lead. An agonising wait followed as the team executed their pitstops, and hoped that the other cars pace would not hold. Thankfully at around 75 minutes into the race, the pace of the two main competitors began to drop, while RLR 3 maintained its pace, albeit at a reduced rate. Last year’s runners up and Race 1 winner Sandbach High School was approximately half a lap behind RLR 3 as the final 10 minutes began. Both cars pace was declining, but thankfully RLR 3’s degradation was less than Sandbach, allowing RLR 3 to take the victory, ending over 3 minutes ahead of Sandbach. The distance set was also the greatest of the two races at 41.99 miles, handing the victory to Richard Lander School.
The International Finals brought with it some fantastic cross school support for the Cornish teams. Sir James Smith’s school brought their car Retro Rocket home in 20th place and was 3rd best kit car. Roseland Academy took place in their first ever finals event, finishing in a very credible 22nd place with their car Roseland Racer 5. Penair school and Truro High School collaborated to race the Penair car Sub Atomic as a joint team, following the Penair team’s late withdrawal from the event. The High School raced Sub Atomic to 48th place. The collaboration between the teams in the garages was fantastic and Truro High School picked up the Spirit of Greenpower award for helping out Penair School.
Richard Lander School would like to say a massive thank you to the Greenpower Education Trust for running this incredible project. We would also like to thank our sponsors this year, Teagle Farm Machinery, Dash Drive, Cornwall Glass, and Team Maintenance Services