WINNING engineers who are already regional champions are taking their motorsport designs back to the drawing board to put them in pole position at national and world level.

Students from Emmanuel College, Gateshead, have their sights set on world championships in Abu Dhabi.

But first that leaves them less than six weeks to redesign model sports cars capable of winning the national finals due to be held in Birmingham in March.

Year 9 and 11 teams cleaned up in the regional heat of the F1 in Schools Challenge staged at the Great Northern Museum in Newcastle.

Budding engineers are challenged to design and make a balsa wood model car that could be propelled by CO2 gas 20m in the quickest time. They are also judged on a presentation of grand prix project work.

The Year 9 team took first place in the Bloodhound SSC class with a winning time of 0.657 seconds, which equates to 68mph.

Colleagues in Year 11, with a much heavier car, took a class win in the F1 category with a time of 1.183.

Both teams are now working on complete redesigns that will improve their cars markedly for the finals, as well as honing their presentation skills to impress the judges.

Year 9 team boss Ishank Arora, 13, said: “We were really proud to win the regionals and can’t wait for the nationals. But we do need to improve our performance, particularly the presentation.”

The students spent a year designing the cars and planning for the event, which has had a marked impact on their lives.

F1 in schoolsYear 11 team captain Declan Southern, 15, said: “We have spent hundreds of hours on this project and from the experience I now know I want to do something with my life that involves technology.

“It was wonderful to win but there is no time to dwell on it as we are already redesigning the car; everything from the bearings to the aerodynamics, the aluminium axles to the wheels. When we reach the nationals we will be up against teams who have spent a fortune developing their cars.”

He said they were looking for sponsorship and he hoped that one day Emmanuel College would become a test centre for competitors as they had developed a virtual wind tunnel that could improve airflow over the car.

Year 11 team member Andrew Sundin, 16, added: “The competition has shown me that I now want to work in Formula One in the future and it would be amazing if we did win through to the Abu Dhabi world finals.”

Technology teacher Louise Glover added: “The students have worked incredibly hard and have proved they are passionate about design. They know there is no time to rest on their laurels and I can see a hunger in them to win at the highest level.”