A group of top aerospace engineering students from the University of Manchester’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) had the chance to act as Formula 1 aerodynamicists for the day – and test a full-scale Le Mans LMP2 race car in a world-class wind tunnel.

Manchester students tested the LMP2 car at MIRA this week

The student visited MIRA, an automotive consultancy company which provides unrivalled vehicle testing facilities at its HQ in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

They were joined by Dr Neil Ashton and Dr Alistair Revell, from MACE, and Caterham F1's Senior CFD Aerodynamicist, James Crook. Together they helped to prepare and test a LMP2 car which will race next year at the famous 24hr Le Mans race.

The car was supplied by University of Manchester graduate and donor Mike Newton, who gave the students a unique chance to get real-life experience at the top level of motorsport.

Funded by the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Strategic Fund, the students have also been learning how to use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) over the summer to understand the flow physics of the car and to optimise its shape to reduce drag and increase its performance.

With plenty of experimental data from the test, the students with the help of PhD student Maciek Konopa will conduct further CFD studies to validate their findings against the experimental data I a bid to better understand the theoretical mathematics and physics behind CFD and automotive design.

Leena Gade, who graduated from University with a Masters in Aerospace Engineering, is currently Audi Sport’s No1 Engineer and has won the Le Mans 24-Hour race twice, in 2011 and 2012.