University of Wolverhampton's racing team handed £200,000 investment

A university racing team has secured a sponsorship boost of £200,000 from a business to allow them to compete in a new motor racing championship.

Shane Kelly, racing driver, Sundeep “Sunny” Motay, studying Motorsport Engineering, Walter Gleeson and Ewan Bishop, studying Motorsport Engineering.
Shane Kelly, racing driver, Sundeep “Sunny” Motay, studying Motorsport Engineering, Walter Gleeson and Ewan Bishop, studying Motorsport Engineering.

The student-led University of Wolverhampton Racing Team (UWR) was handed the cash boost from Highclear Investments following a successful year.

It means the team, crowned Formula 3 Cup Class champions, will be competing in the maiden 2022 Praga Cup competition, part of the Britcar racing package.

Walter Gleeson, who co-founded musicMagpie with Steve Oliver in 2007, set up Highclear Investments last year with his wife Alexa Gleeson to invest in business opportunities within the Midlands and Shropshire regions and across the UK, as well as to support various philanthropic causes.

The cash boost has paid for a new Praga car and infrastructure for the team to compete in the single-make racing series.

Mr Gleeson said: "This sponsorship is primarily about promoting manufacturing and engineering jobs as viable career paths for all, but especially women and students from the BAME community.

“I’m really hoping that this investment will provide the necessary exposure to the range of courses available at the University whilst at the same time allowing us to give something back to the community.

“I was invited to watch the team at Oulton Park last year by one of the other sponsors which gave me a real insight into how hard-working, knowledgeable and diligent the UWR student engineers are. I hope that this sponsorship boost, offering students the chance to work on a brand-new car in an exciting new competitive environment, will open up lots of new experiences for the team and will help to attract an increasingly diverse student-base to the university and, ultimately, the team.”

Third year mechanical engineering degree student Laura Thompson said: "I’m really excited to get to work on the new car and the opportunities it will bring to the team.

"Within engineering, I knew I would be in a minority as a woman, but because I really wanted to do it, I didn’t mind having to push through some barriers.

"The team don’t treat me any differently and there are plenty of opportunities for women to get involved. If you’re really interested in engineering – just go for it. Push through those barriers and you can achieve anything."

The team is made up of students undertaking a variety of degrees including motorsport, automotive, mechatronics, aerospace, manufacturing, mechanical and chemical engineering in the School of Engineering at the Telford Innovation Campus based in Priorslee. I

UWR professional race driver and university mentor Shane Kelly said: “We wanted to modernise what we have following our F3 Cup class victory. The Praga Cup is a step up from where we needed to be in terms of both the car and the competition.

“The new competition will allow our students greater exposure to more media and more coverage, ensuring what they achieve is seen. It’s a shop window for our students, for any Formula 1 or motorsport teams looking in whilst at the same time giving them track-side experience to prepare them for jobs in the Motorsport, engineering and manufacturing industries.”

The Praga Cup is the first series of its kind, launching its maiden race weekend at Silverstone in March. The championship is a single class competition, with each team driving in the Praga R1 race car. Across the year, the competition will be racing at the following circuits: Silverstone Grand Prix (March 12-13), Oulton Park Full (April 2), Snetterton 300 (May 14-15), Silverstone National (June 4-5), Donington National (August 20-21) and Donington Grand Prix (October 22-23).

The new Praga R1 car, purchased by the university with the sponsorship from Highclear Investments, is a single seater, mid-engine race car powered by a 4-cylinder R-A Praga T Engine – producing 365BHP and 395NM of torque. The car’s bespoke carbon fibre chassis is accompanied by an advanced aerodynamic package capable of producing 3G’s of lateral cornering forces.

Mark Harrison, managing director of Praga Cars UK, said: "We’re delighted that the UWR team has chosen The Praga Cup for their next challenge, and I’m certain Shane and the team will be a fantastic asset to the series. As a lightweight, aerodynamic, downforce race car, the Praga R1 is one of the most exciting cars to race at this level of motorsport.

"But it is a great entry level car for newcomers, whether as drivers, technicians, or mechanics. Other than providing a highly competitive and thrilling race series, with fantastic prizes, we’re happy to be part of the University of Wolverhampton and their sponsors’ ambitions to make motorsport open and accessible to all.”

UWR also takes part in the IMechE Formula Student competition and is the factory works team for the Morgan Motor Company, where students are developing two Morgan Plus Fours for racing on behalf of the historic car manufacturer.

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