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5 Nov 2014

A team of University of Waikato engineering students is building a Formula SAE vehicle for next month’s international Formula SAE-A Competition and involves 600 universities worldwide.

The Wesmo team funds, designs and builds their own Formula SAE car with the help of sponsorship and competes in the Australasian division ("Formula SAE-Australasia").

UniRec is sponsoring the team of 15, five of which are drivers so that they are all fit and ready to compete in Melbourne next month in what is a very physically demanding sport.

UniRec caught up with Ryan Belworthy, head of business and one of the drivers for this year’s team to get an update on where they’re at as they modify and rebuild last year’s vehicle in time for next month’s competition.

Ryan has 6 years of motorsport experience behind him and is using this to help develop the other drivers along with a fitness training programme from UniRec. The drivers are looking to be in good shape for the competition.

“At the moment I’m spending about 3-4 days at UniRec working on my fitness. My programme includes high intensity, weights and cardio. All contribute to being able to handle the Formula SAE better and that’s the main goal. Showcasing what the team has done to the modified vehicle and making sure it dominates at competition is to a large degree up to the ability of the drivers as the biggest points gathering event is the endurance race.”

 Over the past week the Wesmo team has been hard at work with engineers flat out working 19 hour days for the past week just to get the vehicle assembled.

“Materials arrived a few weeks ago and the components that we could not manufacture ourselves have arrived in the past week. The aim is to get the engine tuned on Monday which needs to be done in Wellington, get everything put in the car and sort out the bodywork.

“This year we’re going with a full carbon fibre body, rather than the fibre glass the team used last year which will help to save weight and increase performance.

“The main focuses this year are on simplicity and refinement. We have designed 'paddle gear shifters' that sit behind the steering wheel so the drivers are able to have two hands on the wheel at all times. The left paddle has a clutch paddle within it enabling the drivers to brake with their left foot which should result in later and more controlled braking. We have also redesigned the suspension geometry to assist with handling and creating a car that is easier to drive,” Ryan says.

The global competition consists of ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ events where points earned contribute to teams’ overall scores.

Static events include design justification; cost analysis, and presentations where the car is judged based on the design decisions made and its cost effectiveness, along with the team’s ability to make a good sales pitch.

Dynamic events include acceleration; skid pad, autocross, and endurance events. These are used to determine the cars race performance and handling which also justify the quality of the design.

Last year, the team was 6th, giving the team a rank of number 87 in the world. This year they are aiming to improve on that result.

Watch this space for the next update from the University of Waikato WESMO team soon.


In 2014 the team is redesigning and modifying the current car with the aim of improving drivability, and overall performance. Many of the design decisions are based on feedback from the previous year’s competition. This year the main improvements are focused on for the new design including; reducing car weight, improving driver ergonomics, increasing useable power and redesigning the body shell to improve aerodynamics. 

The designs are regulated by a set of rules to generate an even playing field.

The Australasian division event: Melbourne, 11-14 December 2014

The University of Waikato’s WESMO team formed in 2006 and has competes in the Australasian division.

Formula SAE-A point allocations:


Static Events










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Skid Pad






Fuel Efficiency






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