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Bluebird vs. Apex: The closest final in Greenpower history

15 February 2022

Author: The Greenpower Team

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The 2021 Greenpower Finals was a truly special event, as we celebrated the resilience and dedication of the whole Greenpower community after a challenging 18 months for the entire education sector.

But it was also a day to remember due to what happened on the iconic tarmac of Goodwood Motor Circuit, with The Weald School’s Bluebird and Southleigh Racing’s Apex going toe-to-toe and producing the closest final in Greenpower history.

The F24 category had been highly competitive all-season long, with a number of different teams taking victories at the regional heats. However, The Weald and Southleigh Racing had been consistent frontrunners throughout 2021.

Their last pre-final meeting took place a month earlier at Dunsfold Park. On that day, Apex had triumphed over Bluebird by 177 metres, a narrow margin in the Greenpower racing world. Little did the teams know that the distance between the two in the overall final would be less than half this figure.

Fast forward four weeks and the two teams were ready to do battle again, this time with the championship on the line. With the crowd full of anticipation and the cars lined-up on the grid, at 1:40pm on the 10th October 2021, the race for the crown began.

Apex held the lead after Race 1, covering a massive distance of 18.07 km during the 20-minute session. Race 2 had a similar outcome, with Apex topping the classification ahead of Bluebird and extending its advantage to nearly half a kilometre.

However, in Race 3, the tides changed as Bluebird fought back, closing the gap on the leaders to roughly 420 metres entering the final session of the year. With The Weald carrying the momentum, it would all come down to Race 4. The result was still yet to be decided, and it was certain to be close.

Despite pushing hard for the win, both cars recorded their lowest totals in the final outing of the day, which only added to the tension. However, by a distance of just 64 metres – shorter than the Goodwood straight – Bluebird managed to complete an epic comeback and pip Apex to the title after nearly an hour and a half of racing.

“Race day was a little bit stressful,” said 16-year-old Katharine, Bluebird’s head race engineer. “Going into the races we didn’t have all the information that we wanted, but we knew winning would be down to getting the right setup and taking calculated risks. Throughout the season, Apex had performed spectacularly well, particularly at Dunsfold – they were dominant. But in the end we did it. That was the best bit of the day – seeing that we’d done it, seeing that we’d won.”

Karen Quigley, The Weald School’s Greenpower Car Club Co-ordinator added: “The 2021 final was one of the most exciting days of racing for us after a really tough couple of years trying to keep our team going through all the COVID turmoil. I've been involved with The Weald Greenpower team since 2015 – it is a very special group run by parents and volunteers as an after-school club with a focus on student leadership. We have great respect for our friends at Southleigh Racing, and Apex is a truly magnificent car, so it was amazing to compete against them. The whole ethos of Greenpower is to inspire young people to get involved with science and engineering, so I think it is very fitting that a vehicle designed and built by students as an A-level project should go on to sneak a championship away from most likely a better car!”

Where you finish in the end is normally not a priority in the Greenpower challenge, as it is the educational and social skills the competitors develop that is most important. That being said, the battle between Bluebird and Apex at the 2021 finals was certainly a brilliant spectacle, and we can’t wait to see even more great racing in 2022!

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