IIT Madras students are set to showcase their improved race car design in Germany end of the month

Two years ago a 40-member team cutting across various departments in IIT Madras came together to form ‘Team Raftar’. The team put IIT Madras on the global platform through their innovative automobile design which was showcased in high level engineering competitions like Formula Student and FSAE. The success behind the team was attributed to the excellent mix of experienced post graduate students and freshers which gave space to a healthy exchange of ideas and interactive sessions between them.

Team Raftar received praise from the judges of Formula Student UK 2012 at the Silverstone Formula One Circuit when the team stood 82 in its first attempt in automotive design. Their creation, a race car christened RFR - 12 was declared the least expensive Formula student car of the competition while the 2 least expensive car was two-fold of its cost.

Now, the team is looking forward to set greater benchmarks with its improved race car design RFR-13 which will be showcased at the next ‘Raftar Formula Racing’ competition. The team has also qualified to participate in Formula Student Combustion in Germany which is taking place from July 30 to August 4 at the Hockenheimiring Formula One Circuit in Germany.

A great amount of modification has been applied in the design and development of RFR-13. The car has been downsized to make it lighter and cheaper. The team has chosen a Honda CBR250R motorcycle engine instead of Honda CBR600RR which the team was using in its earlier attempts. The driveability has been significantly improved due to the rigorous simulations of the smaller engine. An important aspect of the competition is that smaller engines offer better fuel economy.

The reduction in the weight of the car is because the team has manufactured its own custom differential housing, wheel hubs and uprights in aluminium. A smaller engine and better utilisation of resources meant that RFR- 13 weighs 230 kg, a drastic 130 kg lighter than its predecessor.

Now the driver can extract maximum performance from the car as driver ergonomics has been kept under the spotlight. The cockpit has been significantly modified to provide both high safety and racing comfort to the driver. Electro-pneumatically actuated paddle shifters allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all the times. The chassis has been remodelled to improve serviceability and reduce weight. A more modular designed means that major components like the engine can now be attached and detached comfortably. It has allowed better access to other intricate parts of the car.

The students of IIT Madras have been helped by the Centre for Innovation, a student laboratory which started in 2008. With less than a fortnight left for the competition, Team Raftar is leaving no stone unturned on the final assembly of the car and is expected to test the car throughout the following week before shipping it to Germany. The team hopes to finish in the top 20 this time and translate its hard work into accolades.