We share a passion for innovation and technology with our sponsoring partner: the Ignition Racing Team electric of the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. Every year, around 30 students construct a new high-tech racing car with which they participate in international driving events. In an interview, team member Linus Garcia Alba tells us more about what he recently did in our apprentice workshop and why he already wanted to join the team when he was in elementary school.
Linus, what is your role in the team?
I am the technical manager and a board member of the Ignition Racing Team electric. For example, I take care of capacity planning, the schedule and production plan of the vehicle, and I am in close contact with our sponsors. I started as a member of the Monocoque team, which deals with the main body and the design of the entire vehicle.
How did you get involved with the Ignition Racing Team electric?
That is a pretty funny story. In 2010, as an elementary school student, I went with my father to an Open Day at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, where the Ignition Racing Team was exhibiting. That was my first contact with the team. I immediately thought: that is pretty cool, when I study in ten to 15 years, I'll join them! No sooner said than done. I signed up with the team on the first day of my Automotive Engineering studies – simply because I was so motivated to develop and build my own race car. The 2010 car is therefore something special for me. It is in our workshop and I still adore it a bit today.
However, the car from 2010 is certainly no comparison to your racing cars today.
No, we have developed the cars over the years, of course, and the progress has been quite strong. We started with combustion engines and switched to electric early on, in 2011. It did not quite work out in the first attempt, but we kept at it. In the early days, we used a steel frame and we have now moved to a carbon chassis. A lot has also changed in terms of vehicle weight – the 2007 car weighed 260 kilos, and we are now at 200 kilos without the driver. Of course, our manufacturing partners have also developed a lot and are constantly modernizing.
Keyword “manufacturing” – you were recently at our site in Lingen (Ems) to pick up components that were manufactured in our apprentice workshop. What were these components used for?
The components were used for our new racing car, with which we are participating in this year's driving events. The manufacturing of the components has taken a lot of work off our hands and helps us enormously in terms of time – even though I have heard that the parts were not easy to manufacture (laughs). We are glad that the apprentices at ROSEN have supported us so competently.
That sounds like a lot of work and commitment alongside your studies – what drives your motivation?
A passion for motorsport and technology. All the team members simply want to build a racecar and are highly self-motivated. That is great for us, because motivation leads to independent work. The whole atmosphere is also fun and drives us on! Everything runs on a friendship basis and we all think alike, we have an affinity for motorsports and we are interested in technology. It is a good match and we like to get together in our workshop in the middle of campus.
What technical challenges are you currently facing?
In the last few years, we have had quite a few problems in the area of battery systems and electromagnetic compatibility. We recently discussed this with electrical engineers from ROSEN. We described some of our problems and tried to find solutions together. Even if we did not find a direct solution, the exchange of knowledge with the experts was very interesting and valuable for us.
Last year, you presented your previous car, the Black Pearl, at our site in Osnabrück. Will the new racecar replace the Black Pearl?
Not quite, we are still working on the Black Pearl as well. Our goal is to modify the steering, brakes and controls of the Black Pearl so that the car can drive completely autonomously and we can score points in this category in the driving competitions next year. We are making good progress in this area as well. From the financial support of ROSEN, we were able to buy a special camera that we can use to further develop our autonomous systems. But for now, we are looking forward to the upcoming racing season.
For which races have you signed up this year?
We have successfully applied for races in Germany and Austria this year and also for an event in Italy. The race in Italy is the first one for us this year and goes from July 11 to 17. We have also registered for a race in Spain – we have not heard back yet. But it would not be bad for us if it doesn't work out, as we already have a tight schedule. Three races are a lot for one season, especially because they all take place in late summer.
How do you imagine a race like that?
Not like a classic race – we do not race against other cars for several hours. We have to complete various disciplines with our racecar, in which experts from the motorsport, automotive and supplier industries evaluate the handling characteristics of the car. These include, for example, the Skid Pad category, in which the driver has to drive a figure eight as quick as possible, or the Endurance Run over 22 kilometers – the discipline on which we mainly focus and in which the most points are awarded. Every component of our vehicle is designed for this run, because any additional power also adds weight.
Do you already have an idea where your professional future will take you?
I am really interested in the tasks and topics I am currently taking on in the team. I could well imagine taking on a management position in development or motorsport. I also consider a test technician or engineer in the vehicle sector as an interesting option. However, I will see what the future brings.
Thank you very much for the interview and have a successful racing season!