Europe’s only student-led motorcycle race team, based at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, has secured second place in one of the UK’s most competitive motorcycle championships after a closely fought contest.
Team V4 is a student-managed project which runs out of UWTSD’s Swansea campus. The team is made up of motorcycle engineering students George Douglas (Team Manager), Francesco Cavalli (Rider, Data Analysis, Suspension Dynamics), Craig Shreeves (Head Mechanic) and William Gray (Chief Designer).
They confirmed their second-place finish at the weekend in the BMCRC EDlasia Formula 400 Championship. The competition is run between April and September and visits some of motorsport’s most iconic venues, such as Silverstone, Donington and Brands Hatch.
Craig Shreeves, thirty-one years old and from Swansea, said: “We have had some amazing results, Francesco has ridden incredibly well and the bike worked impeccably. It’s upsetting to have lost the championship having been so close but overall we are happy.”
Team V4 has gone from strength-to-strength since its inception in 2013. In last year’s championship they finished sixth overall out of a total of forty-two riders, and with eleven podium finishes.
George Douglas, twenty-one years old and from Leicestershire, said: “The team has created an opportunity for us to apply the work that we do on the UWTSD motorcycle engineering course into practice. This enables us to see the effects of our developments, engineering in the real world and on the track. It is a priceless experience to take beyond the degree after graduation and into industry.
“We carry out all aspects of the project, from engine building and tuning, carbon fibre manufacture, and the entire general organisation of the race weekends.”
Team V4 run a Honda VFR400 which has been highly modified with modern suspension systems. It also has a full 2D data recording system, the results of which are used by the students as part of their course.
Twenty-six years old William Gray, from Swansea, graduated in the summer and now works for Ford Motor Company. He said: “Employment came really quickly after graduation. I had my degree result on a Friday and I started work on the Monday as a Design and Release Engineer for Ford in Europe, working on the next Fiesta programme.
“Working with Team V4 and building the practical experience of having to manufacture components in a real-world environment was the main reason that I secured my job. Ford was impressed with the team work and the level of commitment involved.”
Twenty-Two years old Francesco Cavalli enrolled at UWTSD having already established himself as a professional rider in his native Italy. In 2009, at the age of seventeen, he took part in the Italian National Championship on a Kawasaki ZXR250. He then went on to race for Kawasaki Europe as part of the Italian Super Stock 600 Championship and in the Italian and European Super-Stock 600 Championships with manufactures including Yamaha and MV-Agusta.
Francesco said: “UWTSD is known as the best place to study motorcycle engineering in Europe. The University’s lecturers have knowledge that you just can’t find anywhere else and I never would have found a similar opportunity if I didn’t come here.
“When we first started Team V4 as first year students it was hard as we didn’t have much knowledge. As we were taught in the University we started to apply our lectures to the project. We started with a basic bike and we now have an incredible bike with components that have been developed and built in-house by students, and with technology applied by students. We are now sponsored by external companies, have links with major motorcycle companies around the world and now we are battling for the most important 400 championship in the country.”
Dr Owen Williams, UWTSD Head of Automotive Engineering, said: “The achievement attained this year by the students in Team V4 racing is immeasurable. It is really a testament to what can be done with hard work, enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment. This is not a student competition but a real life UK motorcycle racing championship. To achieve second place against teams and riders of the caliber they have met and fought against is incredible.
“All of us at UWTSD are hugely impressed with what the students in the team have achieved this year. They have transformed themselves into first-rate race engineers and designers and we are proud for them to be representing the University. The future will surely hold some very exciting things for them and we all look forward to following their story.”