The month of August was a tough one for the team. Starting on the second week, we were in Germany for the first competition ever for us. Back to Lausanne, back to work for the following week as some modification had to be brought to the car. And then the team were back on the road the next week to go to Barcelona.
The German competition began with the first two inspections: Accumulator and Mechanical. We started with the Accumulator (the battery pack) and even though we failed, we got some really interesting feedback from the judges and learnt a lot. The team worked hard to improve the design and try to validate the inspection on time for the races. For the Mechanical, we seem to have impressed the judges with the quality of the car and our preparation, but some small details prevented us from validating it at first try. Everything was corrected the next day, but we still couldn’t validate it without the accumulator installed in the car. Without this, the inspectors could not check its fixation points in the car.
The second day started early with the Egress test during which inspectors check if the pilots can get out of the car in under 5 seconds. Each of them validated it on the first try. We then got right into the electrical inspection that checks the wiring of the car and the safety devices. We couldn’t validate it either since we did not validate the accumulator. At the same time, we could finish the last details of the static event of the next day to be perfectly ready.
The third day was marked by the static events. We had the business plan presentation, the engineering design review and cost analysis. Each of these events was passed without trouble and the learning curve was again enormous thanks to the judges. Even though the results of the design and cost were not what we expected, we learnt what we needed to improve for next year.
On this day as well, we had to take a difficult decision. Indeed, even with the hardest effort of the team, we could not correct the problems of the battery to validate the inspections. We therefore decided to bring back the car to Lausanne to be able to bring these corrections for Spain the following week. It was therefore an early stop for this first race in order to insure a more successful future.
As the car has not been able to race the dynamic events, all points were scored with the static events and this allowed us the be placed 34th on the overall ranking.
It’s been a quiet start for the Spanish step of the competition. Since the order for inspections and static events is based on last year’s world ranking, as a rookie team we have one of the last slots each time meaning that we will have most of them the second and third day. The only event of the day was the pre-scrutineering that has been validated. This meant we got Orion’s first “validated” sticker. This day gave to the rest of the team time to finish some work on the car and get prepared for the inspections and static event in the days to come.
The second day was more filled with emotions for the team. We started the day with the mechanical inspection. It was not validated on the first try but with some minor corrections, we were able to get our second “validated” sticker. We carried on with the cost and manufacturing and the business plan. Both went on without surprises as were the design review passed on the next day. For the Accumulator inspection, the team gave everything to try and validate it but it was not feasible in the short time available. It meant that the car would not race in Spain either.
The final results were therefore really similar to the ones in Germany with points only earnt on the static events. We did notice an improvement in the business plan presentation with a 10 points increase over 75 compared to the score in germany. We end up 36th overall but with even more knowledge than ever before at the end of the second and last competition.
We do realize at the end of the first season that we were a little optimistic on our objective as a first year. We learnt that is was actually pretty rare to see a first-year car pass all the inspections and that it generally takes 5 years for a team to be on top. We learnt a lot all along the year and during these race weeks. We now have all we need to make our second car, a real success.
We would like to thank all of our sponsors, whether they advised us on the design, or they helped us finance this gigantic adventure. It would not have been possible without them.
We would also like to thank each Friend of the LRT that believed in us and participated in our crowdfunding campaign. It helped a lot to have your support.