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Bedford Autodrome Schools Grand Prix competitors test

Thursday, May 05 2011

Entrants for this year's Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix had the chance to take part in an official test session at the circuit last Tuesday (3 May), with less than three weeks to go until the four hour endurance race for electric cars takes place at the motorsport venue. The Grand Prix is open to all schools in the Bedford area.

Most of the entrants were present, fine-tuning the cars and ironing out any issues. The schools gave their drivers time in the cars and their teams practiced pitstops and pit-to-car communications, with some of them coming prepared with F1-style pitboards!

Amongst those testing were reigning champions Mark Rutherford School. They were present in specially branded overalls, and have a two-car team this year as they gear up to defend their title.

Julia Wells, Head of Design said: "We were inspired to build a second car as we are hoping to retain our title. We have retained much of our team from last year but with a second car we have taken on new people too."

One of those leading the challenge will be St Thomas Moore School, with their sleek black racer liveried with green and gold stripes. Team member Simon Prudder remarked on their chances this year: "we came third in 2010, so we're aiming for second at the very least. The car's lighter and smaller, and based on the same concept, with a similar wooden structure, so it's a case of evolution, not revolution. We've designed it to be easily modified."

Dame Alice Harpur School's silver arrow has undergone many changes, as David Jackson from the team explained: "we've redesigned the car to make it lighter and faster. The team is made up of competitors from last year, plus some new faces and we hope to improve and make the podium."

Meanwhile, Bedford High and Bedford Girls' School's Philip Herick is aiming for consistency with their entries: "we want to spend less time in the pits and more time on the track. We'll be very happy to finish and hope that the girls enjoy themselves."

All schools competing in the event design their own car, and teams can go on to compete in the national Greenpower Challenge for electric cars. Indeed, Julia Wells of Mark Rutherford School already has her eye on the future: "After winning the Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix last year we entered Greenpower and made the finals and we want to do it again this year". With this kind of ambition and focus, whichever team that beats them to this year's crown will have earned their title!

About the Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix

The Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix is a concept conceived by MotorSport Vision (MSV) Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer and enthusiastically supported by the late Bedford Mayor Frank Branston. The event challenges schools in the Bedford area to design and construct a small electric car, before competing in a four hour endurance race at Bedford Autodrome.

The inaugural Schools' Grand Prix took place on 9 May 2010, where teams of six pupils from nine schools in the Bedford area took to the purpose-built track - with support from a pit crew of volunteer children from their school. Mark Rutherford Upper School triumphed in the inaugural race and the winning team was awarded the Frank Branston Trophy, which was presented by his wife Marlies Branston.

The 2011 Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix will be held on Sunday 22 May.