Anyhow, the KTM lump served UCLAN well as it was used in 2006 and in 2007 it provided them with their highest ever finish in Formula Student, 19th place out of around 80 teams. That year, student Chris Wright took on the engine development, working wonders with the Austrian powerplant. (He’s since found employment in F1 customer support at Cosworth!) However, it wasn’t all peachy as while Liam was on holiday Chris blew it up on the dyno. ‘He didn’t have the bottle to tell me’, laughed Liam, ‘so he got Stephen Place - who’s now working at Lotus - to phone me...’ This little hiccup ultimately resulted in the engine being taken from 510cc to 540cc…
The following year the students decided to change tack slightly, and bought an Aprilia RXV550. ‘Student Paul Murphy was the project leader,’ remembered Liam, ‘and he bought it without telling me as he knew I’d be horrified. He was right…’ Despite having considered using a 600cc twin for some time, a suitable engine wasn’t really in production and the complex Italian motor didn’t seem ideal either. Still, it’s compact, potent, and now 2012 is the fourth year that the university have run the V-twin.
As a quick aside, a recent departure from the Aprilia was in 2011 when, by mid-May, the team hadn’t progressed much further than obtaining a twin cam KTM 505 motocross engine. The Formula Student event takes place in mid-July… Liam takes-up the story:
‘On 12 May a pair of students came up and asked me if I thought they still had time to build the car. My honest answer was “no, I don’t.” On their way back to the workshop to commiserate with the rest of the team they bumped into lecturer, former Williams F1 employee and main man at racecar manufacturers Juno Racing, Ewan Baldry. “There’s no reason not to try”, Ewan told them, so they came back to me the next day full of enthusiasm. “Well, I didn’t tell you not to try, did I?” I said.’
From that point on everyone launched into the car with real gusto. Tied-up with exam marking, Liam was only able to offer limited help, though when checking-over the engine he did make one crucial discovery: ‘We’d been sold a pup!’
The con-rod was bent and the motor required a full rebuild. £1500-worth of engine parts were called for, and student Matthew Collier worked all day and all night to get the motor running sweetly again. Meanwhile, another team were designing the induction set-up, and by the end of June they were working on the car seven days a week.