Sunsprint Day 2

Day 2 of the Sunsprint saw another clear sunny sky over the UNSW Quadrangle. While a little chilly the day promised to be full of exciting racing between some very closely matched cars. The second day is timed to coincide with UNSW’s Open Day and there were many interested spectators waiting patiently to see the cars in action.

Once again proceeding started with the ‘scrutineering process’ by the judges. Our car was again allocated ballast although only another 60g. The team had learnt a lot from the first day’s testing and some minor changes were made overnight to try and generate more speed.

The organisers made a change to the traditional format with cars grouped according to the ‘seeding’ process from Day 1. The cars would then race off in a round robin to ensure all teams got to experience a number of races. The top two cars from each group would then progress to the final eight where a knockout format would decide the best car.

Our group contained one car which was very fast but we felt there was not much between the rest of the group. There was a lot of confidence going into the racing as we felt a top eight spot was waiting for us.

Once the racing got underway we were surprised at the speed of some of the cars. Teams had obviously done their homework and spent the evening fine tuning their cars to get them maximising their performance. The only downside of being fast is that at times the cars can become unstable and leave the track. This can result in quite significant damage to the cars. Given there is only a short turnaround time between races this can have a devastating effect on the results.

We saw a few cars suffer damage in the early racing with some of the fastest cars suffering a great deal of damage. The top teams prepare for this and have a couple of spare chassis’ ready to go. We were not that well prepared!

Our first race was quite exciting. We made a fast start and left our opponent well behind. There was great excitement as our car was carefully taken away to wait for our next opponent. There was not long to wait and as the starting gate lifted it was clear we were up against a tough opponent. We were left a few metres behind after the first corner and could not make ground against a much quicker car. There was danger ahead though for as our opponent crossed the finish line it left its track and landed on ours! The SMCC Speed Machine was unaware of the danger ahead as it followed closely behind. Unfortunately none of the team members could get to the car in time and WHACK!

Our front axle had snapped in the collision. The smiles had turned to frowns and there was a mad rush to our table to try and find a solution before our next race. There were only a few minutes to sort the problem. With some terrific teamwork we were able to get our car back on the track for our third race but the damage had been done. The car limped around the track well behind our opponent. We needed a win in our final race but it looked unlikely. More work was performed on the car to try and get it competitive. We were called again for our final round robin race. Our opponent had also suffered damage from a previous collision and it was a battle of the broken cars. We managed to get further around the track than them and were declared victors.

Two wins had got us into a race off for a place in the top eight. Some desperate work on the car got us to the starting line but hopes were fading. Our final opponent was in good shape and had emerged unscathed from previous races. It was no contest. After an even start our guide rollers failed and we ground to a halt. It was all over. A dream shattered.

At the end of proceedings we reflected on what had been a truly remarkable achievement. A group of Year 7 students up against much older and more experienced opponents and we gave them a good run for their money. We were fortunate to be given some great advice by some of the judges as well as some very generous opponents.

Our team of Michael, Kosta, Nicholas, Christopher, Jason and Angus did both themselves and their College proud. I know they will all be back next year to use the knowledge gained over the past two days to challenge for a place in the National Championships in 2013.

Thanks so much to Suzana Salem for helping with transport on Day 1 and to all parents who came along to support. Your presence and encouragement were greatly appreciated.

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