Driving ambition gets Sarah Bonnell pupils through Greenpower schools' racing car challenge
PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 October 2019
Schoolgirls with grease under their fingernails have had gruelling laps on the race track with a car they designed and built themselves.
Tyres got ripped and wires in the engine melted.
But the pupils from Stratford's Sarah Bonnell School weren't giving up and were determined to fix the problems while taking part in the national Greenpower schools racing car challenge.
The young racers managed to complete the trial heats at Dunsfold aerodrome in Surrey, despite their setbacks, and now go on to the second stage this month.
The school received a Siemens' bursary promoting engineering as a career where youngsters design, build and race electric cars.
But the challenge was just as much about fixing problems as making sure the vehicle was safe to run or about seeing how fast it can go.
The girls changed drivers three times at the pit stop in the practice run and did seven laps without mishap, before the green flag to go.
"But we hit a problem in our first race when the car broke down," Year 10's Shakira Haque reported.
"The engine stalled and wouldn't turn on again, so we had to take the car off the track to fix."
Everything was checked over step by step, to find the problem.
The relay had overheated, they discovered, which had caused wires to melt through friction. The team managed to swap the wires and were back in the race.
The second heat lasted two hours, changing drivers five times in relay.
But they had another hitch while switching drivers and had to stop again.
"The tyres were ripped because of bad wheels alignment," Shakira revealed. "They had to be fixed quickly to get back on track and avoid finishing last."
They were well clear of the bottom, however, crossing the line in 62nd place out of 85, a good achievement for the school's first attempt at the Greenpower challenge.
Taking part gave them experience working on the electrics, brake system, wheels, tyres and steering.
It also gave them a determination which has got them a place in the second phase in the national green car challenge on October 17 at Dunsfold.