Swinburne students test their skills on a World Championship Grand Prix car
It is not everyday that you get to perform a pit stop on a Grand Prix racing car in front of an audience that includes a former racing driver, but members of Team Swinburne recently had the opportunity to do so.
Students from Swinburne University of Technology’s F-SAE team performed the pit stops on a Jordan Honda 198, one of the cars used by the Jordan Team in the 1998 season. It was the spare car used on the track by the 1996 World Drivers Champion, Damon Hill and his team mate Ralf Schumacher during the season in which Hill scored Jordan’s historic first victory at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for the team, because it’s not every day that you get this close to a grand prix car, let alone have the chance to perform a pit stop on one,” Team Swinburne Team Leader, Jamie Allender said.
“We were also able to ask for advice and get feedback from people who have worked at the pinnacle of motor racing.”
Among those watching the pit stop challenge was former British Grand Prix winning driver Johnny Herbert, whose career spanned from 1989-2000. He drove for teams including Benetton, Jaguar, Ligier and Lotus. He has also competed in other motorsport competition including the Le Mans 24 hour race which he won driving for Mazda.
Metro Trains CEO and Adjunct Professor at Swinburne, Andrew Lezala, was also among those watching the pit stop along with representatives from many other local businesses. Melbourne Grand Prix CEO, Andrew Westacott, was also present.
The team members once trained, had two practice runs before they were put through their paces aiming to beat a time of 6.5 seconds, and they did it in 5.7 seconds, which was very competitive.
The Pit Stop Challenge is part of ‘Performance at the Limit’, a high performance training programme created by Richard West, who has worked closely with Grand Prix greats such as Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher during his tenure with the Williams, McLaren and Arrows racing teams. The concept also draws upon lessons from his series of co-authored business books ‘Performance at the Limit – Business Lessons from Formula 1 Motor Racing’.
“Current Grand Prix pit stops are undertaken around the 2 second mark but this is due to advances in technology in recent years in equipment and wheel nut systems,” Mr West said.
“The guys and girls from Swinburne did a fantastic job and their time would have been hugely competitive in the era from which this Jordan racing car comes. It should also be remembered that the actual Grand Prix teams practice this many hundreds of times per season whilst this team did the time after just 30 minutes of training – exceptional I would say.”
Further information on:
‘Performance at the Limit’ can be found here.
‘Team Swinburne’ can be found here.
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