Wow! What a day that was and we have NEW NATIONAL CHAMPIONS for 2013!
This year’s National Finals started, for some, at 4 o’clock in the morning with an early alarm call. Teams travelled from as far as Scotland, the north of England, the south-west of England, Wales and, in one case, from France, to be at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, in time to get their ‘cars’ onto the starting grid by 9:45.
Everyone was made welcome by Brian and the Challenge team and then Les Ratcliffe, the Head of Community Relations at Jaguar Land Rover, gave a short address explaining why the Challenge was so important to Jaguar Land Rover’s future plans in helping young people to become Engineers and Mathematicians. He announced that as well as running the UK Challenge, schools outside the UK were going to be involved in a competition of their own during 2013/14 and that UK schools would be encouraged to join in this too.
It was time to get started on the real business of the day. The teachers were asked to leave the room and the 36 teams then had just 90 minutes to set up their cars for the big race. The excitement was really beginning to build up! The morning raced by and 12 o’clock everyone had finished on time. The difference between Pole position and the back of the Grid was just 15.8 seconds… were we in for a race!!
Left to Right 3rd – Kevin O’Donnell (Wendy Richardson Jaguar MIM) 1st – Michaela Ekkel 2nd Gareth Jones
After a lovely buffet lunch, the afternoon session began with the Teacher’s Race – 43 laps around the Monaco Circuit. The race began and the cheering started. There was plenty of overtaking and incident throughout the race and the strategy adopted by some of the drivers seemed to be a little bit obscure! However, with a dash for the line, the winner was Mrs. Michaela Ekkel from All Saints C of E Primary School, Bury…a lovely way to celebrate her birthday! Prizes consisting of Monaco Grand Prix shirts and hats were presented and the photographs were taken but it was getting ever nearer to THE race and the tension in the room was clearly mounting.
Brian Richardson, the National Organiser, then gave a short talk that included details of what had happened throughout the year in the Challenge and how the software had now been put on the ‘cloud’. He thanked all of the sponsors for their continued support and also presented a ‘lifelong achievement’ award to Ian Whittington, the man that Brian has worked with on the software for over 30 years! Formalities over, it was time to start the engines and start the main event of the day…
The race itself was an amazingly close run thing and the noise in the room deafening. There were thousands of people listening live on internet radio and a film crew was recording everything that was going on but, without doubt, the moment belonged to the 96 competitors. School names were being chanted, each overtake brought an even louder cheer and once cars started to crash out of the race the noise became almost thunderous! The lead change a RECORD number of times during the race and just a few laps before the end The Compton School, London Borough of Barnet, stormed into the lead and stayed there right through to the chequered flag. They almost could not believe it – they were the new Overall National Champions!
- AGE RANGE 3 PODIUM -
- AGE RANGE 2 PODIUM -
- AGE RANGE 1 PODIUM-
The team from St. Joseph’s R.C. Primary School (Billingham) won the Primary School Challenge for the second year in a row (a fantastic achievement in itself) and Saltash.Net Community School, Cornwall, raced away with the Age Range 2 title.
Phew! It was over for another year and there were smiles all around. Everyone was presented with a goody bag, a Jaguar cap and a certificate and the three ‘podiums’ were presented with trophies and a variety of other prizes.
Well done to the winners and well done to everyone who helped to make this day such a big success. Thank you all for being there and taking part – we can’t do this without you! See you next year!