Student-led racing team reveal latest car at Giltrap

The launch event for the M019 brought the team’s strong community together, as family, philanthropic supporters, sponsors and staff joined students at the Giltrap showroom.

Ben Goodman unveils the M019 alongside Jan McLaren, and Emma and Stuart Murray.
Ben Goodman unveils the M019 alongside Jan McLaren, and Emma and Stuart Murray.

On Wednesday 6 November, our Formula SAE team unveiled the car they will soon ship to Melbourne to compete in this year’s Australasian competition. Like last year, the launch event was generously hosted and supported by the Giltrap Group, with their showroom being the ideal location for a purpose-built, high-performance vehicle to be revealed.

It was only fitting that the team’s major philanthropic donors and long-time supporters, Emma and Stuart Murray, were invited to unveil the M019. They were joined by Jan McLaren, another keen supporter and the younger sister of Bruce McLaren. Visually, this year’s vehicle looks completely different to the car that took them to third place in last year’s championship, with the aggressive aero package drawing plenty of attention when the car was unveiled.

In his speech, Team Leader Matt Hufton acknowledged that the latest car “reflects significant change”, but still shares some similarities with its predecessor, the M018. Matt also thanked the team’s significant number of sponsors — noting how lucky they were to be in such a fantastic venue — and reiterated that couldn’t do what they do without this ongoing support.

Dean of Engineering Professor Nic Smith was also impressed by the team’s efforts. In his speech he highlighted the community of students, supporters and staff that has formed around the team, and described Formula SAE as something where technical skills come to life in a student-led environment fueled by passion and excitement. He also put the team’s efforts in context with what Bruce McLaren achieved, highlighting how the company that bears his name started as a community of passionate individuals also brought together with a single goal.

Michael Giltrap spoke on behalf of Sir Colin Giltrap, whose continuing support has been a massive benefit to the team. Not only has the Giltrap Group offered its flagship showroom as venue, Sir Colin has also supported the team and funded the McLaren Automotive award, a scholarship which sees University of Auckland Engineering students travel to McLaren in the UK for a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity.

Michael described the sponsorship opportunity as a no-brainer, as Sir Colin has a huge love for seeing passionate New Zealanders achieve great things. From his experience during the event, Michael noted that the passion for the project amongst the staff and students was obvious to anyone in the room.

Finally, the team’s current Chief Engineer Ben Goodman ran the crowd through the technical details that define the M019. Ben said the team learned a ridiculous amount over the course of the year, emphasising that while the cars are built to competition rules, these guidelines still allow for a significant amount of mechanical design freedom. The major changes for this year’s car include the move to four-wheel drive — with an electric motor driving each wheel — and a full aerodynamics package, giving the car a dramatic presence when compared to last year’s sleek appearance.

Once revealed, the car was instantly surrounded by eager people, as family members, sponsors, friendly competitors from the University of Waikato's team, and even Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon admired the team’s engineering efforts.

Now, the car begins its journey to Australia, where it will compete alongside other entrants from the region. The team is hoping to build on its third-place finish from last year, and come out of the competition with a design that can act as a baseline for future success in the coming years.