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theteamAt 9am on Thursday 10th of January, 9 students from the University of the West of Scotland strode onto the Go Motorsport stand at the 2013 Autosport Show, NEC Birmingham. Their Challenge – to convert a 1999 Nissan Micra 1000cc into a ready to go Junior 1000 rally car by 6pm on Sunday night.  The project was the brainchild of Alison Clark from Lockerbie – the MSA Go Motorsport Regional Development Officer for Scotland – with assistance from David Barlow. David is the Co-ordinator of the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge – a car rally Championship for 14 to 17 year olds which is entering its second year in Scotland.

The students were mainly from the UWS Motor Sport Design course – the only such course in Scotland. Ages ranged from 18 to 31 and practical  experience in the task ahead ranged from “quite a lot” to “not a lot”!!! The engineering team comprised:

Frazer McChlery (31) from  Dunoon
Peter McGreal (25) from Westport in Co. Mayo
Nathan Silverspoon Rutherford (23) from Dalkeith
Euan Davidson (20) from Newton Stewart
Danni Simmons (18) from Livingstone
Calum Macdonald (18) from Newton Mearns
Louis Couttie (18) from Howwood, Renfrew
Vilius Kuzma (18) from Dundalk in Co. Louth

And joining the team as “official recorder”:

Isla Todd (20) fromAvoch on the Black Isle, Inverness.

The Challenge was to strip the car of its normal creature comforts and fit all the safety equipment – roll cage, seats, belts, etc – plus new suspension, exhaust and air inlet system to improve the performance. Adding to the Challenge was the fact that they were doing it in front of over 60,000 passers by over the 4 days of the show and in an area about the size of a normal single car garage. Oh, plus visits from some of the biggest names in the motorsport world who came along to sign the car.

And whilst all this was going on, Isla was taking pictures and recording interviews with the “stars” – names such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir John Surtees and Shane Lynch from Boyzone.

Over the 4 days most things went smoothly and everybody who visited the stand was mightily impressed. When things did not go smoothly, there was plenty of expert help around to be called upon. Everybody at the show wanted the team to succeed in their Challenge.

And succeed they did. After a pretty frantic last hour, at 5.59pm on Sunday afternoon – 1 minute before the deadline – Peter McGreal stepped back and pronounced “Right – that is it”. The car was then assessed by a couple of experts and the students were given scores of 9 out of 10 and 8.5 out of 10. A very satisfactory outcome and 9 very weary students headed back to their hotels for a rest before facing the long haul back up to Scotland on Monday 14th.

Alison commented at the end of the exhibition “It was very rewarding after so much planning, to see the students work together as a team, and to receive so much support and help from other exhibitors”

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