UW Takes 5th at 2011 Formula SAE Michigan

UW at 2011 Formula SAE On the second weekend in May, the WR-211 put Wisconsin Racing back on the map with a 5th place finish at Formula SAE Michigan. This marks the first top five finish for the team since the 2008 but the 6th since 2000. The 5th place finish also makes UW-Madison the top finishing domestic team (1st place went to Global Formula Racing, a collaborative effort between Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg-Ravensburg and Oregon State). The results for the top ten are listed below.

  1. Global Formula Racing - DHBW Ravensburg/Oregon State (Intl)
  2. Technical University of Munich (Germany)
  3. University of Stuttgart (Germany)
  4. Graz University of Technology (Austria)
  5. University of Wisconsin - Madison
  6. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  7. University of Applied Sciences Zwichau (Germany)
  8. University of Akron
  9. University of Kansas - Lawrence
  10. University of Applied Sciences - Graz (Austria)

Wisconsin’s vehicle composition has undergone major changes beginning with the 209. This year, the team completed the transition to the lightweight vehicle concept by redesigning the entire suspension and chassis to utilize 10” rims and Hoosier tires. Besides the increased performance of the new tires, the wheel package reduced the vehicle weight by 21.5 lb alone. These massive and somewhat risky changes were not completed without challenges but the result was a remarkable performance increase from the previous year. In fact, the WR-211 posted the best power to weight ratio at competition and was the fourth lightest car at only 325 pounds.

The WR-211’s powertrain package was refined greatly as well. The team continued its used of E-85 with the turbocharged KTM 525-EXC engine. Reintroduced a full carbon fiber intake plenum, improving flow characteristics and reducing vehicle mass. Advanced simulation work was completed with Ricardo WAVE software and the powertrain group was able to acquire in-cylinder pressure data for the first time thereby making Wisconsin one of the few Formula Student teams with such data at its disposal. The powertrain package presented at competition boasted a staggering 82 hp.

UW at 2011 Formula SAE

Here is a summary of the buildup and a day-by-day recap of competition,

The atmosphere of competition began to peak for the team on the night on Monday, May 2nd when Uni Stuttgart was welcomed to Madison for the third time. UW established relations with Uni Stuttgart in 2007 at Formula Student Germany where Stuttgart arose as the eventual winner, arguably only because of a freak failure of Madison’s car. Stuttgart had posted 2nd place finishes with the F0711-5 in the UK and in Italy the previous summer. Thus, the team was excited to have the opportunity to benchmark the WR-211 against such a strong competitor entering competition.

On Thursday, May 5th Wisconsin tested with Stuttgart at MGA Research Corporation for the day. A wide open track setup with a average speed in excess of 45 mph favored the Honda CBR 4-cylinder engine powering the German car. With both cars on track at the same time, however, Stuttgart was only besting the WR-211 by .1-.2 seconds per lap.

The following Saturday and Sunday marked the ! nal test days that the team would have prior to putting the final aesthetic touches on the car and packing up for Formula SAE Michigan. A tighter track was setup in Campus Lot 60 on Saturday and Sunday. Here the more nimble and lighter weight Wisconsin car proved superior. After these test days, both teams were confident that their cars would be near the top of the field in a few days.

The WR-211 departed Madison on Tuesday afternoon and arrived at Michigan International Speedway on Wednesday morning. After a long wait to register, entrance was finally granted to the paddock area. Unfortunately, things did not progress much further for the team that day as a high tech inspection number was drawn and the team was forced to go through tech inspection on Thursday morning.

The most exciting part of the Wednesday was the weigh in. The team projected for most of the year that the WR-211 would tip the scales at around 340 pounds and the previous day in the shop with full fuel the car had weighed in at 335 already exceeding the teams expectations. At final weigh in the car the WR-211 weighed only 325 pounds beating the team’s goal by 15 pounds. This was also a 68 pound weight reduction over the previous year!

Thursday was an action packed day. First on the docket was the preliminary design round. At the Formula SAE Michigan competition, the design consists of three rounds where five judges, judge the teams on their knowledge of the vehicle and theory. After the 45 minute session, the team was confident that they had done enough to impress the judges to earn them a trip to the design semi-final round.

As soon as the team’s design judging session concluded, the team headed into technical inspection. The technical inspection was the smoothest for the team in memory and was completed in 35 minutes where other teams were averaging 1 hour and 15 minutes. After, the WR-211 when through the tilt test to check for leaking fluids and then the brake and noise tests. These remaining pre-dynamic events tests were completed without a hitch.

UW at 2011 Formula SAEThe Business Presentation and Cost events took place on Thursday as well. The Business group did an outstanding job with the presentation and garnered an 8th place finish scoring 70 out of 75 points for the event. The cost event on the other hand was one of the most frustrating times for the team during competition. For the real case cost scenario, worth 20 points, the team was stuck with a judge who was slightly confused about how the event was supposed to be scored and awarded the team less than full points. After a protest, the team was awarded full points for the real case scenario and received 81 of a 100 possible points in the cost event in total.

Finally, the announcement of the design semi-finalist came in the late afternoon and for the first time since 2007 Wisconsin was chosen to move onto the semi-final round! Different from the preliminary round, judges rotate around during the three hour time slot and nearly every the judge questions each team. The process can be quite grueling, especially after a rather long day.

After the dust settled, Wisconsin finished in a tie for 7th place in the design and was the first team left out of design finals. The team was hurt significantly by cockpit ergonomics, which the judges felt were inferior to other teams. All in all, the team was satisfied with its performance in this event and knows what to build upon for a higher finish next year.

The Friday of competition is usually the most exciting day of competition. Throughout the morning teams complete the skidpad and acceleration events and during the afternoon the autocross event is held. The day was definitely full of excitement for the team, some wanted and some not.

Immediately, at the beginning of the day, a powertrain problem surfaced, which was eventually found to be a problem with the upstream fuel injection. Unfortunately, the issue could not be resolved until the evening so the team’s performance in Friday’s events were hampered significantly. Still, drivers were able to get the car to perform adequately enough to secure solid places in each event.

Most notably, driver Andrew Baum was able to turn a 50.417 second run on his second autocross trial yielding a 8th place finish in autocross for the team.

The final day of competition was one of waiting and a bit of controversy. SAE had decided to switch up the endurance running order for this competition, much to the chagrin of the top competitors involved. In the past, the field had been split between two groups and slower half of the field would run in the morning and the faster in the afternoon with the afternoon field running in reverse order, so the fastest teams would be on track with the highest track temperatures. Teams in design finals would run right before the second session.

Instead of this, SAE decided to run teams from slowest to fastest for the entire day while still placing the design finalists at midday providing a huge advantage for those teams. This meant the WR-211 would not go on track until late in the day until around 6pm. Impending rain was also making the team very nervous that the WR-211 would be on track in wet conditions when the design finalists were on a dry track. The late start time did provide the team with time to prep the WR-211 and double check every system.

When the WR-211 did finally take to the track, its pace was impressive. With rain drops in the air, a great battle between the WR-211 and the car from the University of Kansas took place. Wisconsin eventually passed the Jayhawk car and at the end of 22 km event, the WR-211’s time was good enough for 6th place in the endurance event and finished 5th in fuel economy. Both marks were tops for E85 fueled teams. The onboard video from the event can be viewed at the bottom of the page or at www.youtube.com/uwracing.

The only thing left at this point was to wait for all the points to be tallied and the final results to be issued. Impressively, it took the competition sta" over 4 hours to do accomplish this task but when things were all said and done Wisconsin was awarded 5th place overall!

Remaining for the team now is the Formula SAE California taking place on June 15th-18th. Global Formula Racing will be present at this event, as well as the event defending champion R.I.T.

Finally, the photo gallery for the WR-211 can be found through the gallery link at www.uwracing.com.

For more info on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Racing Team visit www.uwracing.com