Change the world

FSG01The ‘Formula Student Germany 2011’ competitiontook place from 02 to 07 August 2011 at the famous Hockenheim Ring Formula One race circuit in the south of Germany, and was attended by 108 teams from countries as far afield as USA, India, United Kingdom, Argentina, Moscow, and all over Europe. The event was separated into two categories, namely internal combustion engine cars, and electric powered cars, which comprised 30 of the 108 teams.

Although the Formula Student event format is now available in many countries around the world, the German event is considered to be the premier event worldwide, both from an organizational perspective, as well as the quality of the cars competing for top honours.

This event is also sponsored by a number of large automotive companies, such as Volkswagen, Continental Tyres, BMW, Audi, Diamler, SKF, Siemens and ZF, who recognize the value in providing young engineers with an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice on the race track. Many of these companies spend time at the event mingling with the competitors to offer assistance, as well as to recruit the brightest to their firms on completion of their studies.

Formula Student is primarily a design event, and in order to succeed in this competition, teams must score points in both static and dynamic events. Static events include the design presentation, business presentation and cost report, while dynamic events include acceleration, skidpan, autocross, fuel efficiency and a 22km endurance event.

NMMU Racing at Formula Student Germany

FSG02The NMMU Racing team was formed three yearsago through the collaborative efforts of the VW Chair in Automotive Engineering. It became the first African team to successfully compete in this competition and gained much respect from judges and fellow competitors alike as a very competent first year team. Most notably the team was able to successfully complete all the events on offer with no failures on the vehicle, a feat only achieved by 25 of the 78 combustion-engined vehicles, and unheard of for a first time entrant.

The team of 12 students selected for their knowledge and experience in various aspects of the project, was led by our team captain Hiten Parmar, who was a founder member of the project, and supported by Andre Labuschagne, head of electronics, Saleem Noorshib, head of mechanical components and Peter-Ben Johnson, head of business.

For some, this was the first opportunity to travel beyond the borders of South Africa and experience the culture and language of a foreign country. The Formula Student competition provides a unique opportunity for students from around the world to interact and learn from each other, and many friends were made during the week-long event with students from universities on distant continents.

The NMMU Racing team members, as well as their respective roles and responsibilities are listed in the table below. A diverse team was selected to represent the NMMU in Germany and many engineering and business disciplines were represented along with a diversity of cultures and backgrounds.

Year Team Name Surname Role
2011 Leader Hiten Parmar Team leader, Engine & Electrical
2011 Electrical Andre Labuschagne Deputy team leader, Engine & Electrical
2011 Mechanical Saleem Noorshib Mechanical team leader
2011 Mechanical Simon Adams Mechanical
2011 Mechanical Niel Strydom Mechanical
2011 Mechanical Carl van Rooyen Mechanical & FSG Logistics
2011 Mechanical Stephen Bradshaw Body & Mechanical
2011 Mechanical Lee-Wyn Arands Mechanical
2011 Business Peter-Ben Johnson Business Team Leader
2011 Business Strydom (Enzo) Ernst Business Team
2011 Business Loyiso Gongqa Business Team
2011 Coordination Alison Richter FSG Organization & Logistics

Competition Results

FSG10NMMU Racing’s competition results are summarizedbelow, along with the result of the winning team in each event. The respective positions only refer to the combustion car event comprising 78 teams. A minimum of four drivers are required as each driver may not compete in more than two dynamic events.

Scrutineering Order Position: 20th

Pre-scrutineering list of issues: 17 items (resolved prior to judging)

Post-scrutineering list of issues: 18 items

Skid Pad

  • Drivers: Peter-Ben Johnson, Andre Labuschagne
  • Winning Team Result: 5.742sec
  • NMMU Racing: 6.368
  • Position: 42nd


  • FSG11Drivers: Saleem Noorshib, Hiten Parmar
  • Winning Team Result: 3.811sec
  • NMMU Racing: 6.077sec
  • Position: 56th


  • Driver: Peter-Ben Johnson
  • Winning Team Result: 50.580sec
  • NMMU Racing: 74.399sec
  • Position: 43rd


  • Drivers: Hiten Parmar, Saleem Noorshib
  • Winning Team Result: 1300.92
  • NMMU Racing: 2041.23
  • Position: 24th

Fuel Efficiency

  • Winning Team Result: 1.89l (consumed during endurance event)
  • NMMU Racing: 3.26l
  • Position: 30th

FSG08Engineering Design

  • Position: 59th

Business Plan

  • Presenters: Peter-Ben Johnson, Loyiso Gongqa
  • Position: 53rd

Cost Report

  • Presenter: Peter-Ben Johnson
  • Position: 71st

Overall Position: 66th out of 78

NMMU Racing Event Calendar

The activities for each day of the event are captured below by our team captain Hiten Parmar.

Date: Sunday 31st July 2011

The team had a great send off from the Port Elizabeth Airport from family and friends of team members. A press photo-shoot for the local PE newspaper was also conducted before the departure.

Date: Monday 1st August 2011

The team had a safe arrival into Hockenheim after a 29 hour journey which proved to be a bit tiring for most of the members. On arrival at the hotel we had a brief leader meeting and agreed to locate a spot and setup our campsite. It was found that although the documented date for access to the campsite was Tuesday, teams had already occupied most of the campsite by Monday late afternoon.

Date: Tuesday 2nd August 2011

FSG06We were fortunate enough to have an unofficial ‘pre-scrutineering’ as our vehicle was already delivered to the scrutineering area and open to view by all officials. In the brief discussions we were pointed out to 17 items of concern by the chief scrutineer Ulf Steinfurth. The general consensus was that we had a good car for a first year team which was very positive to hear.

The team and driver registration of 5 drivers went off well, however when the scrutineering order was released the result was not very favorable to our situation. Although we did exceptionally well in the scrutineering quiz which allocated us a position of 20th, we were not ready to scrutineer in such a short time and so we lost our first allocated slot. In the interim we managed to get assistance from another team with a vehicle and trailer to transport our car to the campsite where we are able to work on the car without any restrictions. We worked through the night on the list of items that we had, the main concern being the body work.

Date: Wednesday 3rd August 2011

We continued to work on preparing the car for scrutineering and needed to have brackets welded of which we had to wait for the welding bay to be opened. At midday we had the panoramic photograph for all the teams participating. It was another day of hard work and another all-nighter to get the car ready for scrutineering. By this stage it took some more motivation for the rest of the team to keep going, as the tiredness began to set in after all the jet-lag and all-nighters. We moved the car from the campsite into the allocated pit area and carried on working from there.

Date: Thursday 4th August 2011

FSG09There was now a morning team briefing every day for the team captains and drivers. All relative information for the day was discussed and teams had the opportunity to pose questions to the officials regarding organizational issues.

We managed to get the car to scrutineering where 18 further points of concern were raised. The work on the car then continued to resolve all the issues on the scrutineering list.

Date: Friday 5th August 2011

This day provided to be a busy day for us with a lot of the events happening all in one day. The Business Plan Event with Peter Ben, Loyiso and Hiten went off well from our side but after the judges feedback, we seemed to have not been able to ‘sell’ our idea to them convincingly enough. We had exceeded our time limit of 10 minutes for the presentation as there was a slight misunderstanding by our business team on what the rules had said. Unfortunately our cost report representative Enzo fell ill, and was unavailable for the cost report event and Peter Ben had to stand in on his behalf. We had something to learn on this event where it was necessary for the car to be present and a lot more information was required by the judges than what we had initially assumed. The Engineering Design event was a bit nerve wrecking for some of the team members, but on the whole we handled it well. In the later informal discussions with the judges we realised that this event is purely about the “WHY” in our designs - they want to know why we made the design choices that we have.

FSG05On our second attempt at scrutineering we werefortunate enough to be passed and awarded the first sticker of Tech Inspection. The next step was to fill up the vehicle with all fluids and proceed to the Tilt table test for fluid leak at 45 degrees and 60 degrees for suspension lift. This was successful and we were awarded the Tilt Table pass sticker. We then proceeded to the Engine Test area and started up the engine for the first time in Germany with no problems at all. A small water leak was found which was solved with the tightening of the hose clamp on the radiator. The Noise test was our next hurdle where at first we exceeded the regulated noise level by 2dB’s. We were questioned on whether we had any noise dampening inserts for the silencer but unfortunately we had none of these in Germany. A retest was done and the readings remained the same. Thankfully the officials were very accommodating, realizing that we were a first year team, and allowed us to pass the noise test but cautioned us to look into noise dampening in the future. The Brake Test was our next step where Neil was the driver, and on the second attempt we managed to lock up all four wheels and have the engine still running, as per rule requirements, and so we passed the Brake Test.

We now had full access to all dynamic events and proceeded straight to the skid pad event as we were limited with time. Peter Ben was the first driver and had a smooth run with a time of 8.271sec on the first run and then a confident 6.753sec on the second run. Our second driver was Andre who managed a time of 7.697sec on his first run and then a 6.368sec on this second run. We scored 37.90 points out of 75 and were placed 42nd out of the 51 skid pad contenders.

Date: Saturday 6th August 2011

FSG07At this stage most of the team members had really been experiencing tiredness and we tried to keep the spirit together and keep the motivation in sight of representing our country as well as focusing on finishing the event. We had two dynamic events for the day, the Acceleration and Autocross event. Each event needed different setups on the car and we tried to aim for optimal performance on the car. For the acceleration event we opted for a bigger primary sprocket and stiffer rear springs. The first run was done by Saleem who managed a time of 7.244sec on his first run and 6.307sec on the second run. Hiten was the second driver managing a time of 6.449sec on the first and 6.077sec on the second run. The problems encountered were that we were unable to test the launch control properly to configure it for the correct launch rpm and this resulted in the ‘bogging’ of the car off the line. The overall results were not great with 3.5 points out of 75 and a position of 56th out of 56 contenders.

Soon after the acceleration event we had to change the setup on the car to a smaller primary sprocket and medium rear springs. We also did some shock damping adjustment in preparation for the preceding events. In between this we also had a visit from student of the Ingolstadt University who were interested in setting up collaboration with NMMU Racing. Our first driver on the Autocross was Peter Ben who managed a time of 88.585sec on the first outing and then 74.399sec on the second. Unfortunately due to delays in the earlier meeting with Ingolstadt and setup changes there was a delay in getting the car out and we only managed to get one driver on the Autocross since there was a cut-off time for this event. The overall results for the Autocross were 4.5 points out of 75 and a position of 43rd out of 43 contenders. The results from the Autocross served as a qualifying for the Endurance event and thus we were placed in the early morning session.

Date: Sunday 7th August 2011

FSG04The car was prepared in time and final setup done to make our time slot. The track conditions were dry and we used the full slicks. The first heat was done by Hiten where the car ran smoothly with only an “off course” by the driver on the last corner of the main straight of the first lap. The car was brought into driver change after 14 laps and the driver change and engine restart was successful. Saleem drove the second heat and succeeded in nursing the car to the end to bring it home for NMMU Racing! This was a great accomplishment and joyful moment for the whole team. The fuel economy event was run in conjunction with the endurance where we used 3.26 liters of fuel and were placed 30th for fuel economy and 24th for the endurance event.

The overall results put NMMU Racing 66th out of 78 worldwide teams.

The conclusion was that it was a great experience for all team members to be part of this event. All the blood sweat and tears over the years had finally paid off with us completing the event, and most of all making history for Africa!

The important information that we can take back is to maintain the car’s simplicity and reliability, but work on the areas where we lost points. The static events need better preparation for future events. We have acknowledged some of the design flaws on the car and these serve as the target areas of improvement for DibaTwo.

The drivers would also need more seat time for them to have a better feel for the car and most of all develop the confidence required to drive closer to the limit of the car’s performance.

Feedback from Team Members

Andre Labuschagne

FSG03The competition in Germany was a very positivelearning experience for me and my fellow team members. The knowledge of engineering and business management that was shared and observed at Formula Student Germany (FSG) was exceptional. I learnt so much about project leadership and also how to handle different people in different situations. The very knowledgeable judges that were judging the cars also shared their ideas and opinions with me and the rest of the team, which helps us to look at our design flaws and also where we can improve. They are experts in their respective fields which make their opinion carry a lot of weight.

Leewyn Arends

Interacting with different people and cultures was an amazing experience. I met people from all over the world and got to learn about other countries and their cultures as well.

Loyiso Gongqa

The trip to Germany changed my life. I see things clearly now. I know that life gets better. I know that there is a rainbow over the mountain. I might still have stars in my eyes but I now have a better understanding of myself.

Saleem Noorshib

Firstly, I would like to thank for providing me and the team this amazing opportunity. For me this was a dream come true and this was my first time travelling overseas and being in another nation other than South Africa. Finally for me to be the final endurance driver and the feeling I got when we were one of the few cars to finish was indescribable. I was ecstatic and the feeling of the crowd roaring in celebration was amazing. Thank you so much for making my dreams come true.

Peter-Ben Johnson

FSG12The friendly atmosphere, however, does not dampen the competitive zeal with which the teams tackle their projects, some of the designs and incorporation of leading edge technologies and materials does definitely make it one of the most inspiring competitions in the world today.

Thank you to all who made it happen in a big or small way, it truly was an unforgettable experience and I have been very proud to associate myself with NMMU Racing.

Alison Richter

The event really promotes engineering and out of the box thinking. It also promotes sportsmanship and the building of relationships between teams from around the world.

Special Thanks to our Sponsors

Finally I would like to highlight the significant role played by our sponsors and supporters, in making this project happen, as well as the assistance provided to the team in getting to Germany.

Volkswagen South Africa: Technical support as well as materials and components from VW Racing. VWSA also sponsored the container shipment to and from Germany that transported our vehicle and equipment to the event.

Continental Tyre South Africa: Sponsorship of purpose-built racing tyres for our vehicle, driver training, and the travel costs of three students to Germany.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality: Financial Sponsorship

Automotive Industry Development Corporation: Human Resource Capacity Building

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University: Financial and institutional support

In addition to our headline sponsors listed above I would also like to thank all the companies and individuals who played pivotal roles in supporting our team both technically and financially. Your support has not only provided the means for the team to achieve its objectives, but has made a significant impact on the lives of all the students involved.