Racing season picks up pace for students as new Morgan cars revealed
Engineering students from the University of Wolverhampton have put the finishing touches to two new Morgan racing cars - with the vehicles exclusively revealed at an event at Donington Park recently.
The Morgan Motor Company, the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Engineering and the University’s racing team (UWR) have continued their long-standing technical partnership with the creation of a motorsport-focused variant of the Morgan Plus Four.
The University of Wolverhampton recently signed a new five-year partnership agreement with the Morgan Motor Company, bringing with it a racing programme set to further improve the student experience.
The two cars, which have been designed to compete in a host of club-level sprint and endurance championships, such as the Morgan Challenge, will race in the remainder of the 2021 season and beyond. Having completed the racing modifications to both cars, the UWR team will provide trackside and workshop engineering support to the cars and drivers, honing students’ vital skills and preparing them for a career in motorsport or automotive engineering.
The partnership collaboration provides practical experience of working with a car manufacturer, educational programmes, research and development, as well as providing trackside experience for the students by preparing, maintaining and developing competitive race cars.
The project forms an important part of Morgan’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) programme. Morgan and the University of Wolverhampton have worked in partnership for 5 years, supporting education and training with direct recruitment opportunities for graduates. Previous students working on the Morgan race team have gone on to secure full-time roles with the company. Further plans, in collaboration with Morgan’s nominated charity partner, Mission Motorsport, will be announced in due course.
As Morgan’s factory works team, University of Wolverhampton Racing (UWR) converted the two Morgan Plus Four models from road-going cars into fully prepared racing vehicles. UWR is made up of students undertaking Engineering degrees at the University’s Telford Innovation Campus, who are overseen by motorsport professionals.
Jack Birch, third year Motorsport Engineering degree student, said: “We’ve already passed a fair bit of research and development information across to Morgan which will make the vehicles more efficient both for racing and on the road.
“This kind of partnership is great for the students. It gives them hands-on experience and it’s crucial that the students can use what they learn, both on and off the track, to go into industry when they start to pursue their careers. We are technically the factory race team and that’s quite unique. It’s amazing that the opportunities we have on the development side can turn experience into jobs.”
Steve Morris, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Motor Company, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the motorsport variant of the Morgan Plus Four, which continues our long tradition of motorsport. A century ago, Morgan’s three wheelers became famous for their exploits in trials, hill climbing and endurance racing, and this competitive spirit is alive and well here at our Pickersleigh Road factory to this day. The programme brings tangible benefit in terms of ongoing product development, and we are delighted to continue our partnership with the University of Wolverhampton to inspire the next generation of automotive talent.”
Professor David Proverbs, the Dean of Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University, said: “The partnership between the University of Wolverhampton’s racing team and the Morgan Motor Company provides an incredible opportunity for our students to work with such an iconic car manufacturer. Converting these two stunning cars for racing, and then supporting the cars and drivers at racing circuits around the country will give the UWR students unique experience of the motorsport industry, as well as helping their drivers to win races.”
The Morgan UWR project has been supported by Oceanscan and Sercal, the School of Engineering’s Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) partner. As Title Sponsor of the Morgan UWR project, the twin companies based in Aberdeen and Cannock have provided their expert knowledge of NDT to help the team test the cars in the lead up to their inaugural race.
Ken Hunter, Managing Director of Title Sponsor, Oceanscan, said: “We’re delighted to assist UWR with the development of the Plus Fours for racing. Teaching the students to use NDT equipment to look at various aspects of the cars and engines without dismantling them, or testing tyre temperatures to ensure their drivers have the best grip of the road, has been a genuine pleasure for our experts, and an opportunity for us to invest in the future of the industry by speaking directly to the next generation of engineers.”
Morgan unveiled its all-new Plus Four only one year ago, replacing the Plus 4 – the car UWR had previously campaigned – which was launched in 1950. Beneath the Plus Four’s traditional aesthetic is a revolutionary new design featuring Morgan’s CX-Generation bonded aluminium platform and a 2.0-litre turbocharged BMW engine. With technology such as a double-wishbone suspension all-round, and both manual and the latest generation of automatic gearbox available, it provides the perfect base for a motorsport development programme.
In line with Morgan’s programme of continuous product development – which recently saw the release of the Model Year ’22 package of updates for the Plus Four and Plus Six models – the project aims to collect data and feedback from the extreme conditions of a race environment which will directly shape the research and development of current and future models.
In 1962, Morgan won its class at the 24 hours of Le Mans and, just as impressively, the car was driven back to Morgan’s home in Malvern, Worcestershire, after the race. Following in this ‘clubsport’ ethos, the motorsport variant of the Morgan Plus Four remains fully road legal, able to be driven to and from the circuit if desired. Fitted with both manual and automatic transmissions, the vehicles demonstrate the versatility of the Plus Four and its breadth of capability. They will primarily be driven by professional racing drivers, to ensure consistency as part of the development programme, but drives will also be available to guest drivers during selected events.
It marks the first competition use of the bonded-aluminium CX-Generation platform, on which the Plus Four is based, and sets out to validate the model’s performance and durability credentials. This encompasses the platform – which weighs just 97kg yet offers twice the structural rigidity of Morgan’s previous aluminium platform – as well as the model’s bespoke double-wishbone suspension and BMW-sourced powertrain.
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