Formula SAE team launches 2018 challenger

Our Formula SAE team has unveiled its latest car, the M018, at a launch event held at the Giltrap showrooms.

The event, generously supported by the team at Giltrap, saw a collection of past FSAE competition cars lined up alongside the latest supercars, including a $2 million McLaren Senna which kept visitors occupied while they waited for the M018’s reveal.

Sir Colin Giltrap opened the speeches, congratulating Formula SAE Team Leader Lizzy Grant on being granted this year’s Bruce McLaren Scholarship that will see her complete a coveted internship with McLaren at their UK headquarters. Sir Colin also discussed the rapidly changing future of the automotive industry, highlighting the extensive range of electric vehicles from names such as Jaguar and Porsche. He believes the current FSAE team members are on the right track for a career in the automotive industry, since 2018 marks the third year they’ve built an electric vehicle for competition.

Chief Engineer Blake Roberts reported on the team’s progress over the course of the year. At the group’s Tech Night event in July, Blake said the main goal was to get the car running as early as possible so they could undertake a solid amount of testing and work through issues before competition. They were successful, with the car first running in August - the third earliest date in the team’s history - which gives them a bit of extra confidence before they head to Australia.

Eva Hakannson - one of the team’s Faculty Advisors - described the team’s impressive efforts and how she loves this type of competition. While she admitted to cracking the whip to ensure the team was sticking to schedule, she believes the results are reflective of Kiwi ingenuity and New Zealand’s motorsports heritage. Like Blake, Eva expressed her confidence in the results of the team’s hard work.

Dean of Engineering Professor Nic Smith also commented on the location, picking up specifically on the beauty in Engineering present in the McLaren Senna, which he got a guided tour of thanks to last year’s McLaren Automotive Award winner Thomas Evans. Professor Smith talked about how Engineering’s ability to change the world aligns with the work of the Formula SAE team members, particularly in their ambition, leadership, and the type of hands-on work that leaves grease under their fingernails.

The evening concluded with Lizzy thanking a number of key people on behalf of the rest of the group. This included the team’s generous philanthropic donors including the Giltraps and major backers the Murray family. She acknowledged the team’s numerous sponsors who provide an incredible amount of tools, materials, services and knowledge. Lastly she thanked all the staff, friends and family who offer their support. The M018 was unveiled by Emma Murray, a long-time financial supporter of the team and Jan McLaren, Bruce McLaren’s younger sister. It was a fitting selection, as the Murray family’s generous gifts are crucial to the ongoing success of the team and continue a legacy started by Emma’s late husband, and Faculty of Engineering alumnus, Ian Murray. The car also contains a subtle nod to the McLaren family as well, with the “papaya” stripe up the side reflecting the colour of McLaren’s early Can-Am and F1 racers.

The team now heads to Australia to compete across a range of static and dynamic events designed to test all facets of the car. The competition runs from the 6-9 December at a track just outside Melbourne.To keep up to date with their progress, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.