Purdue finishes 48th at FSAE Michigan

Purdue Formula SAE finished 48th at the 2015 FSAE Michigan race held at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI. Over the course of four days, the team competed in a series of events both static and dynamic. A fueling issue forced the team to retire the car halfway through endurance, resulting in a disappointing DNF.

The Purdue P15 was a major change for the team, with a switch in engine manufacturers from Honda to Yamaha. The team’s primary goal was integration of the new Yamaha YFZ-R6 engine successfully. In addition, the team had to adapt to new aerodynamic rules that led to smaller wings both front and rear. The team finished 29th in Design, 17th in Presentation, and 69th in Cost.

Day 1 of dynamic events was extremely hectic as the team scrambled to meet new sound level requirements. The team ultimately passed sound and brake test and was able to get out to the acceleration run, putting down a fast time of 4.413 seconds, good enough for 12th place. A marshalling error, however, meant that the team’s skidpad time was not recorded in the final minutes of the morning session. In the afternoon, drivers Max Lupfer and Keith Wittmer both set competitive times in autocross, despite having to handle a loose racecar. Max set a best time of 54.384 seconds, good enough for 28th place and a spot in the afternoon grouping for endurance.

Day 2 consisted of the endurance event, as well as the fuel economy event. Keith Wittmer was first out for Purdue, driving the first 11 laps. Keith turned in competitive times, averaging around 69 seconds per lap. Following the 11th lap, he pitted, and Max Lupfer got in the car to drive the second stint. However, during the driver change, a marshall noticed a large amount of fuel leaking from the car, ending the team’s day prematurely. As a result, the team DNF’ed in both endurance and fuel efficiency, missing out on a lot of points.

Despite the disappointing finish, however, the team took away a lot of good experiences from the event, and hopes to return to the sharp end of the field at next year’s race.