Coventry students in Electric Grand Prix podium success

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Monday 23 May 2011

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Three Motorsport Engineering students from Coventry University have finished third in the hotly-contested evGrandPrix in America, a race for pure electric karts which takes place as part of the build up to the iconic Indianapolis 500.

Ryan Colvey (24), Paul Sleight (23) and Andrew Cook (21) teamed up with the University of Sunderland to take part in the prestigious annual event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which encourages students to design, build and race the fastest and most energy-efficient battery-powered kart over 100 laps.

The trio, who designed and built the all-electric kart using the CAD and laser engineering facilities in Coventry University’s motorsport workshop, got off to a good start when their kart was voted runner-up in the ‘design’ category, which qualified them second on the grid for the gruelling race ahead of a multitude of universities from across America.

At the start, driver Paul swept into the lead of the 30-strong field – which included the University of Warwick – and, despite the limited track-time the team had prior to the event, the squad headed the pack for the opening laps.

With three laps to go, a collision while battling for the top positions bent the kart’s roll cage and forced Paul into an unscheduled pitstop, during which Ryan, Andy and the team made a herculean effort to fix the damage and get the kart back on track in a mere few seconds.

A storming final two laps saw Paul overtake five rivals, crossing the line to secure third position overall in the event.

Teams were also awarded points for the energy efficiency of their kart, which was measured at the end of the race using special battery analysing equipment. The Coventry and Sunderland team scored strongly enough in this category to cement their third position.

Ryan, a postgraduate Motorsport Engineering student and the project co-ordinator at Coventry University, said:

Third position is a fantastic achievement for our team, and it’s a great reward for the effort we put in on the run up to the event. We didn’t get a lot of testing time beforehand, but we were pretty confident we’d come up with a good design which would be competitive.

Paul drove a great race, even taking the lead at the start, but this was very much a team game and we worked really well together with our teammates from Sunderland. We’re already looking forward to taking on the challenge again in 2012, but next year it’s definitely the top step of the podium we’re aiming for.

Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), said:

This is marvellous news, I congratulate the success of these two great universities – working so well together, in a real team effort, against outstanding competition. This unique event will catch the imagination of students everywhere.

It is perfectly timed, just as the automotive world looks ever more closely at electric solutions to green transport and young engineers need to gain all the knowledge they can. Innovative motorsport competitions, such as this, will accelerate that process, as always.

The evGrandPrix, which is organised by Purdue University, Indiana, in conjunction with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, aims to inspire students to use sustainable technology to develop racing machines with an environmental conscience.


For further information, please contact Alex Roache, Communications Assistant, Coventry University, on 024 7679 5050 or email

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