GB bobsleigh team use East Lancashire defence giant's wind tunnel in training

The GB bobsleigh team

The GB bobsleigh team

First published in News

SCIENTISTS and engineers from BAE Systems have been applying the same technology used to develop the Eurofighter Typhoon to help improve the racing speed of the Great Britain bobsleigh team.

The four-man team spent three days in the East Lancashire defence giant’s wind tunnel in a bid to shave seconds off their time.

During the testing the teams were joined by a BBC film crew from Dara O’Briain’s Science Club programme, which was aired on Thursday on BBC Two.

The wind tunnel, normally used to test fighter jets at speeds of over 200mph, was used to simulate full bobsleigh racing conditions and examine how different sled set ups and crew positions affect wind resistance at speeds of over 65mph.

The testing, which was carried out alongside experts from McLaren Applied Technologies, focused on the plastic composite helmets worn by the team Joel Fearon, Bruce Tasker, Stuart Benson and driver John Jackson, to ensure they pick the right one to take to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, next February.

Gary Anderson, performance director for the GB bobsleigh team, said the team had been 0.07 seconds off a podium finish at the world championships in January.

“Our aim is to top the podium at the biggest events and we are leaving no stone unturned to maximise our performance,” he said.

“We are talking the narrowest of margins and the aggregate of these can be the difference between fourth place and making it onto the podium.”

BAE systems project manager for the technology partnership, Kelvin Davies said: “Designing and engineering some of the world’s most complex products means that we are at the forefront of technological innovation.

To be able to share this considerable expertise with athletes so that they can make adjustments that will enhance their performance is tremendously exciting for us all.”

Group leader for aerodynamic testing, Mark Spore, added: “On a normal day, the wind tunnel would be used to test the aerodynamic performance of the world-class aircraft we produce, but having had cyclists and wheelchair racers in the tunnel before, it was great to welcome the bobsleigh team.”

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