03/08/2021

University student motorsport team celebrates amazing Formula One double victory

Motorsport students from the University of Bolton are celebrating after their team won both Historic Classic F1 races at Silverstone at the weekend.

Professional driver Michael Lyons qualified for pole position in the 1981 Ensign 180B historic F1 car, on Friday.

He then won races on both Saturday and Sunday in the car, which has been prepared by students from the University’s National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME), achieving the fastest lap time on both outings. The iconic Ensign car has been loaned to the University by Bob Fernley, a motor racing stalwart, who has run teams on both sides of the Atlantic in Can-Am, IndyCar and F1.

The student-run team has developed and enhanced the car’s performance from a programme that started last year.

Johnathan Hyde, one of the NCME students who graduated this summer and is progressing to an NCME MSc programme, was part of the project engineering team and his role as Chief Mechanic responsible for the car’s preparation and reliability.

He said: “This experience has been amazing, and we have all learnt so much.

“When things don’t go right you learn to work twice as hard, and it’s not about having the will to win, but working hard to get the win.

“This journey has been a rollercoaster ride and couldn’t have ended any better. Thank you to the NCME for giving me the chance, and the best experience anyone could dream of.”

Bob said: “Before partnering with the University of Bolton to provide their students the opportunity to gain hands-on practical, technical and scientific Formula one experience.”

“It has been an absolute pleasure to support the University of Bolton with the use of my old F1 cars and mentor their students.

“I look forward to working with them as we expand the programme in the future.”

The Silverstone Classic weekend was the culmination of more than 18 months’ work to understand the 40-year-old ground effect Ensign F1 car.

Mark Busfield, Director of NCME, who pioneered the course at the University of Bolton with a dedicated team of industry and academic specialists in 2017, said: “I would like to thank Robert Fernley for loaning us his wonderful Ensign N180B and giving our students this insightful project.

“Special thanks to ROKiT for sponsoring the project, and to our students and support team for the weeks of work and dedication to get this level of success.”

Meanwhile, the NCME has a ‘Fast Track to F1’ programme with two sponsors, Kingfisher and ROKiT, who will support one student each through their NCME undergraduate three-year programme, covering the course fees and a monthly stipend to help with finances. This bursary is available to any UK resident student joining the University of Bolton in September 2021, who has put the University as their first choice.

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