UB Racing clinches second at Formula Student in eighth year with Mazak

The University of Birmingham student racing team has come second in the 2017 Formula Student UK competition – the best performance in the team’s 20-year history – beating a host of UK and international rivals from the 75-strong field.

2017 also saw the continuation of UB Racing’s partnership with Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd, which has supplied a number of machined parts to be used on the team’s competitive racing vehicle for the eighth-successive year.

Run by the IMechE, the competition took place from 20-23 July at Silverstone and is well known as a testing ground for the next generation of autosport engineers; with teams having to design and build a single-seat racing car, which is then put through a rigorous series of static and dynamic tests.

UB Racing performed exceptionally well in all areas, coming seventh in the acceleration test – a 75m timed drag race; second on the ‘skid pad’ – which tests the car’s lateral acceleration in a figure of eight; and second in the sprint – one timed flying lap around the 1km circuit. However, the crowning achievement was victory in the endurance event, which comprised 22 laps of the circuit with one driver change, testing the car’s durability, reliability and fuel efficiency. This ensured the team picked up the trophy for best performance in the dynamic events, with only Cardiff University beating them to overall first place due to its performance in the commercial elements of the competition.  

Over the years Mazak has supported UB Racing in both a design consultancy role and as an engineering resource, specifically through the use of a number of machine tools at its European Technology Centre, in Worcester.

Mazak-made parts that have been used on team cars since 2010 include wheel uprights, machined using an INTEGREX i-400S Multi-Tasking machine; differential hangers, machined on a Mazak VCS-430 vertical machining centre (no longer in production); and various hub components, turned and milled from solid on a QUICK TURN NEXUS turning centre.

For the 2017 car, Mazak machined and supplied four sets of front and rear brake disks. The manufacturer has also helped UB Racing devise and engineer a dry sump system, using 5-axis machining on a VARIAXIS j-500/5X, which will be used on next year’s car.

Dr John Liverton, Product Manager at Yamazaki Mazak, who helped found the relationship, commented: “Formula Student is a fantastic engineering competition and the level of design and ingenuity on display goes above and beyond what anyone would expect of undergraduate students. UB Racing were up against international universities – some of which have affiliations to Formula 1 teams – so to finish second overall, and win the dynamic side of the competition, is an outstanding achievement.

“The University of Birmingham has a special place for many Mazak employees, as we count a number of alumni among our staff. As such, UB Racing has long been the perfect fit in allowing Mazak to support an academic institution that has provided us with a constant supply of talent over the years.”

Charles Hodgson, Team Principal at UB Racing, commented: “We were feeling quietly confident going into the 2017 Formula Student competition, and are ecstatic about the result. To finish second within a field of outstanding student engineers from all over Europe is something we are all incredibly proud of, and it is the culmination of years of work, from both the current team and all those that have worked on cars in previous years.

“Mazak has been an invaluable partner to the UB Racing team over the years, both in terms of machining support and as a design consultancy resource. We get a lot of feedback when we send drawings over to the team at Mazak, which is a huge help and also helps us grow as engineers.

“The key area we wanted to improve on this year is reliability. Our 2017 car featured front and rear brake disks supplied by Mazak, but we have also been working with them on a long-term solution to tackle oil starvation. We use a motorbike engine to power the car, and we have been working with Mazak to develop a dry sump system which will prevent the oil from moving around as much as it has in the past, and ensure it will remain in constant supply to the engine. We hope to have that system finalised over the coming months, in time for use on our 2018 vehicle.”

Yamazaki Mazak has a long history of supporting the autosport manufacturing industry, and has supplied a number of Formula 1 teams, and tier one and two suppliers, with the latest advanced machining solutions. Notably, Mazak has been the sole Official Supplier of CNC machine tools to the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 team for 18 years. Currently it has a total of 33 machines installed at the McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey, including multi-tasking and multi-axis machines from the INTEGREX and VARIAXIS series.