The institute’s official formula racing team has designed a single-seater, open-wheeled car that will compete against other such machines in Germany. T.S. Atul Swaminathan reports

IIT-M students are gearing up for a motor racing challenge that will have a number of student teams from universities across the world battling it out at Hockenheim Formula One Circuit from July 31 to August 4. The Formula Student championship, as it is called, requires the teams to design their own single-seater, open-wheeled cars.

The 30-member IIT-M team – Rafter Formula Racing – have designed theirs. With the expertise available at the institute’s Auto Club, this race car, called RFR-13, was assembled at the Centre for Innovation (CFI), a student-run laboratory on the campus. The project was overseen by faculty members.

“Freshers and research scholars joined to assemble the car,” says Arun Vinayak, founder, Raftar Formula Racing.

“It is a nice project to pursue, as it supplements our classroom knowledge with hands-on experience. The Formula Student event is a litmus test that will reveal the students’ understanding of automotive concepts. For some universities, taking part in the competition is mandatory; it is a part of their curriculum,” Rajat Tiwari, team leader, says.

The team optimized their design around key parameters: serviceability, drivability, reliability, cost and performance. Made at Rs. 7.3 lakhs, RFR-13 is said to be one-third the cost of an average Formula Student race car.

Among the major features of the car is a modified Honda CBR 250R engine, one that is fitted with custom cams. “Electro-pneumatically activated button shifters have been fitted on the steering wheel to cut down lap times,” says Anand Hariharan, co-founder, who recently completed his M. Tech at IIT Madras. This year, the team has devised an all-round strategy to approach the dynamic events of the competition which quantify various capabilities of the car, such as straight line acceleration, brake test, skid-pad for vehicle dynamics, autocross, a 22km-endurance run and fuel economy.

The experience gained from competing in the previous edition of the competition – Formula Student United Kingdom at the Silverstone Circuit – has been of considerable help to students while preparing for this year’s.

Professor A. Ramesh of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and faculty advisor to the project, said, “The project is a student initiative. It is completely done by them with marginal guidance from the faculty.”

Murali Balasubramanian, general manager, virtual engineering, Chrysler India Automotive Private Limited, stated, “We are co-sponsoring the ‘Team Raftar’ vehicle. It is a fruitful engagement with IIT.

We want to work with IIT in research and development projects with innovation for upcoming automobile technology needs.”

The race car was recently inaugurated by Dr. Bhaskar Ramamurthy, Director, Dr. L.S. Ganesh, Dean (Students) and Dr. Mahesh Panchagnula, Advisor, Co-Curricular Affairs, recently.

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