Theft may threaten ability to participate in upcoming international competition
Crucial equipment was discovered missing from the UVic Formula Motorsport club’s workshop yesterday, threatening their participation in an international competition this May. The parts are suspected to be stolen, and include a steering wheel, steering column, steering rack, and a pelican case. They are valued at about $2 500 to $3 000 according to preliminary estimates.
“We cannot replace these parts before our unveiling event on Saturday, and likely cannot replace them in time for the competition,” said Stephen Bradley, the Formula Motorsport team’s project manager. “That is thousands of hours of effort, on the part of everyone on this team, wasted.”
According to Bradley, the missing equipment was last seen on the evening of April 24. By his estimates, the theft occurred between 11:30 p.m. on April 24 and 1:25 a.m. on April 25.
The theft was discovered later that day, when one team member went to assemble some steering components. As he was working, the team member was approached by a man who gave him a box of equipment that had been discovered in his garden.
These recovered parts, that belong to the club, were “low-value and of low concern,” but alerted the team member to the potential that other missing materials had been stolen. After checking the workshop and trailer, and confirming with other teammates that the equipment had been in the trailer the night before, the team member concluded that the materials had been stolen.
On Saturday, the Formula Motorsport team is hosting a launch event, where they plan to unveil the car to all of their supporters and sponsors. The group intended to present an overview of all systems of the car, including the now-missing steering system.
“No judgment, we would just really appreciate these parts back.”
Although Bradley said the steering system isn’t super crucial for the presentation on Saturday, without the parts, the team will be unable to test their car on Sunday as planned. This could also disrupt their scheduled testing days next week in preparation for their competition on May 8 to 11.
“The testing days are incredibly important to sort out issues with the car and make sure that it is reliable to drive at the competition,” said Bradley.
Every year, the club designs and builds a car to compete against teams from other universities. The design for this year’s car began in June 2018, and they have been manufacturing parts since January 2019.
“It’s a pretty large-scale operation,” said Bradley. “We’ve been manufacturing multiple parts pretty much every day for the past 3.5 months”
Will replacement parts be available prior to the competition? Bradley won’t know if the parts are in stock until he speaks to the suppliers, although he is particularly concerned about the exclusively-manufactured steering rack.
“If any of the parts aren’t in stock then we are in a serious pickle, and will need to look into alternate components and a rapid-prototyping of a new steering system design,” said Bradley.
The Formula Motorsport team’s workshop and trailer are located between the UVic cluster residences and the Alumni Chip Trail. According to Bradley, theft from the workshop or equipment trailer has not been a problem in the past.
In spite of the setback, members of the Formula Motorsport team still worked into the early hours of the morning to get their car ready for Saturday.
“Last night a few of our members stayed up working on the car until reinforcements arrived in the morning,” said Bradley. “This time of year where things are especially busy, it’s not uncommon for there to be nights that last until the birds start chirping.”
Bradley encourages anyone with information on the missing parts to contact their team through Facebook, Instagram, or by email.
“No judgment, we would just really appreciate these parts back,” said the UVic Formula Motorsport team in a Facebook post.