For the last 5 years, Oxford-based Carter Bearings has provided support to one of the UK’s leading teams in the Formula Student motorsport series, a prestigious racing programme organised and overseen by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). One of the leading entrants in it, the Oxford Brookes Racing (OBR) team, sponsored by Oxford-based Carter Bearings, remains a competitive force in the series. It is no coincidence that both entities are geographically located in Oxfordshire, at the heart of an area of the UK that includes so many leaders and innovators across science and technology, motorsports, medical and space engineering, to say nothing of its world famous Universities. Up until this year, all the cars on the Formula Student grid have used internal combustion engines as a power source, but in order to match the worldwide pursuit of greener, cleaner vehicles, from 2020 onward all cars in Formula Students must be powered by electricity. So the competitors are now operating real, live development electric vehicle test beds, and many of these engineers may well go on to become the vehicle designers of tomorrow. Carter is well experienced in providing bearings and the accompanying expertise in high performance electric vehicles – in 2013 it was the sole bearings technology partner (and supplied all the bearings used) in Drayson Racing’s innovative vehicle which set a new Outright UK Land Speed Record for electric cars at over 200mph.

The switch to electric power has been warmly welcomed by OBR, who have been quick to design an all-new drive system for their vehicle which is as energy efficient as possible yet powerful enough for them to aspire to first-place on the grid when race day eventually comes. As part of this drive for efficiency, Carter have supported OBR with both bearings expertise and a selection of lightweight, low-friction high performance bearings for uses in a variety of places throughout the OBR vehicle. For example, in the drivetrain, a Carter bearing sits inside an Electron Beam Melted 3D printed titanium upright and helps deal with lateral, vertical and longitudinal forces in excess of 3G on the track.

Elsewhere in the OBR drivetrain, Carter Type S 61818 high-performance bearings are coping with high static and dynamic loads to enable optimum gearbox rotation: they also assist in the transfer of axle loads.  The all-new planetary gearbox features Carter thin section bearings that save space whilst delivering fuss-free smooth running. Further, Carter K10x14x10 TN and HK1015 high speed needle roller bearings are located within the planetary gears themselves to assure smooth and accurate running. OBR’s Lead Engineer, Powertrain, 19 year old Homan Ho says “In common with many sporting activities, the CV-19 pandemic has prevented us from racing so far this year, but we’re filled with confidence for 2021 in this fantastic race series. Thanks to the expertise of the engineers at Carter, and the supply of some of their high-performance bearings in so many critical applications on our vehicle, we consider ourselves extremely fortunate and cannot wait for the forthcoming season”.

Carter’s Piotr Burda, (himself an Oxford Brookes Motorsport graduate and F1 engineer who is now a bearings specialist with Carter) has been working closely with the OBR team to help them maximise bearing performance and achieve their goals. He observes: “It is a pleasure to help the next generation of engineers and to see and be part of the advances they are making with new technology as it emerges”.

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