Formula Ford – Minitron Racing
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Rob was a level 3 motorsport student from The College of West Anglia. He was selected to take part in one of the Student Motorsport projects after we were contacted and received recommendation from one of his motorsport tutors at the college. He started on our Student Motorsport project in March 2011 as a mechanic working with Minitron Racing testing and running a Formula Ford race car which is entered into club formula ford events in the UK.
Minitron Racing was founded by Innes Hickman in 1991 as a means for him to get started in competition. Innes told us: "Initially it was just me and my Dad with friends occasionally helping and we started in sprints and hillclimbs with a Mini Clubman and progressed from there to eventually run the Van Diemen Formula Ford 1600 that we have now. It’s a small family team but we run a professional outfit and prepare our cars to the highest standard."
The team currently runs a Van Diemen in Formula Ford 1600. In recent years they have been competing in SEMSEC events based in the Southeast but for 2013 they raced in the MSVR Champion of Brands series as well as taking part in the BRSCC Formula Ford Festival and this has been where they have been racing since.
Minitron Racing first started to get involved with the educational side of motorsport back in 2009 when they assisted the College of West Anglia with their Marrick Formula Ford project. Innes told us: "We helped out with technical knowledge and also did a couple of tests with them once the car was running. This turned into a full time drive with them for the 2010 season and we ran in SEMSEC events at Lydden and Brands Hatch with some success. It was through this that I met Student Motorsport founder JP Latham and he suggested that I take a small number of students on to assist with my on racing as I was going to return to using Mintron’s Van Diemen for 2011. It starts slowly as I got used to working with students with limited experience but with JP’s assistance I learned how to get the best out of them and help them unlock their potential. This carried on through 2012 with mainly students from CWA."
Student Motorsport asked Innes why he felt working with students was beneficial, he told us: "The benefit of having students working in the team is first and foremost is the enthusiasm they bring. From what I have seen so far, their determination and willingness to learn is quite uplifting. Personally, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with the next generation of engineers and technicians. As a small, self-funded team there are risks of course. Everything on a racing car is expensive and we can’t afford breakages or failures due to finger trouble. At Minitron we work in a very structured way and any new team member coming in gets to work closely with our Number 1 mechanic who will teach them what to do and how to do each task until he is happy they are able to carry it out unsupervised. We’ve found this to be the best way and that new students have learnt very quickly. The fact that Alex, our Number 1, is an ex-student helps as he has seen or made most of the ‘new boy’ mistakes himself in his early days so he is best placed supervise."
After working to improve his respective motorsport skills and industry experience Rob was able to secure a role at the college he studied at as a motorsport technician and continued to support Mintron Racing and also went on to work with Thatchway Motorsport with their Radical Sr4 during the 2012 season. Rob told us: “I was involved in the Student Motorsport projects in the early stages of the site, they took me under their wing and gave me many opportunities working with motorsport teams.”
"Student Motorsport was something that I was very excited about as I struggled to break into the motorsport industry for the career I wanted. Some of my best experiences have come from working with Student Motorsport." Rob Sykes