University race team unveils striking new-look livery for Praga racing car
The University of Wolverhampton Race Team (UWR) is the only student race team in the UK competing in professional motorsport competitions – and the team is on track for the first race of the season in the Praga Cup 2022 after unveiling its new livery at a prestigious launch event recently.
After a successful year of racing in 2021 that saw the team crowned Formula 3 Cup Class champions, they will now be the only University race team competing in the new Praga Cup 2022 following a substantial £200k investment in a new Praga R1 car and branded infrastructure from Midlands-based firm, Highclear Investments, led by local businessman and philanthropic entrepreneur, Walter Gleeson.
Walter’s driving ambition is to get more diversity into the sport including women.
The sponsorship boost provided by Highclear will mean that the team will now compete in the maiden Praga Cup competition, a single-make racing series that will be part of the UK’s prestigious Britcar racing package.
The team unveiled its striking new livery in the company of ex-Formula 1 driver, Johnny Herbert, the former CEO of Williams F1, Alex Burns, Walter Gleeson (UWR Title Partner and CEO Highclear Investments), the Interim Vice-Chancellor at the University, Professor Ian Campbell, plus additional sponsors, our UWR students and our two professional racing drivers, Shane Kelly and George Line.
Walter, who co-founded musicMagpie with Steve Oliver in 2007, set up Highclear Investments in mid-2021 with his wife, Alexa Gleeson, as a private commercial vehicle to invest in business opportunities within the Midlands & Shropshire regions and across the UK as well as to support various philanthropic causes for which they both share a deep passion.
UWR is made up of students undertaking a variety of degrees including Motorsport, Automotive, Mechatronics, Aerospace, Manufacturing, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering at the University's Telford Campus based in Priorslee. It is part of the University’s commitment to producing graduates who can apply both theory and practice in the industry, offering them hands-on experience to equip them with real-world skills to boost their employability.
The Praga Cup is the first series of its kind, launching its maiden race weekend at Silverstone in March 2022. The championship is a single class competition, with each team driving in the Praga R1 race car. Across the year, the competition will be racing at the following circuits: Silverstone Grand Prix (March 12-13), Oulton Park Full (April 2), Snetterton 300 (May 14-15), Silverstone National (June 4-5), Donington National (August 20-21) and Donington Grand Prix (October 22-23).
The new Praga R1 car, purchased by the University with the sponsorship from Highclear Investments, is a single seater, mid-engine race car powered by a 4-cylinder R-A Praga T Engine – producing 365BHP and 395NM of torque. The car’s bespoke carbon fibre chassis is accompanied by an advanced aerodynamic package capable of producing 3G’s of lateral cornering forces.
Professor Ian Campbell, Interim Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “Our investment of £10 million in enhanced provision and expanded facilities in our School of Engineering demonstrates our commitment to providing the next generation of skilled engineers. Our new courses combine activity based learning and live industrial project work with a real focus on creativity and employability.
“UWR has recently taken delivery of awards for the F3 Cup Championship and we’re really hoping that this new exciting partnership with Praga, in a brand-new race against professional teams and drivers, will prove beneficial to increasing diversity on our engineering and manufacturing courses whilst at the same time enhancing the student experience to really prepare them for industry-standard careers in the future.”
With equality and diversity at the heart of the sponsorship, Highclear CEO, Walter Gleeson, said: “This sponsorship is primarily about promoting manufacturing and engineering jobs as viable career paths for all, but especially women and students from the BAME community.
“I’m really hoping that this investment will provide the necessary exposure to the range of courses available at the University whilst at the same time allowing us to give something back to the community.
“I was invited to watch the team at Oulton Park last year by one of the other sponsors which gave me a real insight into how hard-working, knowledgeable and diligent the UWR student engineers are. I hope that this sponsorship boost, offering students the chance to work on a brand-new car in an exciting new competitive environment, will open up lots of new experiences for the team and will help to attract an increasingly diverse student-base to the University and, ultimately, the team.”
Third year Mechanical Engineering student, Laura Thompson, said: “I’m really excited to get to work on the new car and the opportunities it will bring to the team.
“Within engineering, I knew I would be in a minority as a woman, but because I really wanted to do it, I didn’t mind having to push through some barriers.
“The team don’t treat me any differently and there are plenty of opportunities for women to get involved. If you’re really interested in engineering – just go for it. Push through those barriers and you can achieve anything.”
UWR professional race driver and University mentor, Shane Kelly, said: “We wanted to modernise what we have following our F3 Cup class victory. The Praga Cup is a step up from where we needed to be in terms of both the car and the competition.
“The new competition will allow our students greater exposure to more media and more coverage, ensuring what they achieve is seen. It’s a shop window for our students, for any Formula 1 or motorsport teams looking in whilst at the same time giving them track-side experience to prepare them for jobs in the Motorsport, engineering and manufacturing industries.”
Mark Harrison, Managing Director of Praga Cars UK said: “We’re delighted that the UWR team has chosen the Praga Cup for their next challenge, and I’m certain Shane and George will be fantastic assets to the championship. As a lightweight, aerodynamic, downforce race car, the Praga R1 is one of the most exciting cars to race at this level of motorsport. It is also a great entry level car for newcomers, whether as drivers, technicians, or mechanics. Other than providing a highly competitive and thrilling race series, with fantastic prizes, we’re happy to be part of the University of Wolverhampton and their sponsors’ ambitions to make motorsport open and accessible to all.”
The University has invested £10 million in the engineering facilities at its Telford Campus creating world-class education facilities for engineering students including industry standard design, development and testing facilities as well as Motorsport workshops.
UWR also takes part in the IMechE Formula Student competition and is the factory works team for the Morgan Motor Company, where students are developing two Morgan Plus Fours for racing on behalf of the historic car manufacturer.
UWR and the opportunities it provides are made possible by over 40 sponsors, with Highclear Investments joining supporters like Hadley Group, the international cold rolled steel company which has its headquarters in Smethwick, Oceanscan, the lead partner on the Morgan team and our Non-Destructive Testing partner, Bowers Group, the team’s Metrology partner and FBC Manby Bowdler, the West Midlands based law firm. Whether providing financial support, cutting-edge manufacturing equipment or industrial mentoring, our sponsors from across the country enable the team to deliver racing success and vital employment opportunities in an important industry. UWR and the School of Engineering are grateful to all our sponsors of eight years of racing.
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For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.