Off-Road Righteousness

Concordia’s Automotive Engineers Gear Up for Baja Races

  • Graphic Laura Lalonde

The Baja racing team at Concordia has set lofty goals of top ten finishes in all competitions they’re slated to compete in this year. Preparation for their first race is already underway.

Concordia’s Society of Automotive Engineers Baja team is readying themselves to compete in the 2015 Épreuve du Nord. The tenth edition of the competition will be hosted on the University of Laval’s Quebec City campus on Feb. 6 and 7.

The Épreuve du Nord is a friendly competition which consists of a two-hour endurance race on snow and ice. 15 teams will be competing in this competition.

The goal of SAE Baja competitions is to design and build a prototype single-seat all-terrain sporting vehicle capable of supporting the weight of its driver. The vehicle must comply with strict rules set by the SAE. All vehicles must use a single Briggs & Stratton ten-horsepower OHV Intek engine, donated by the Briggs & Stratton Corporation.

“Right now we are testing every weekend we can to make sure that everything is going to be working properly for competitions, just to work out all the bugs and little problems that are going to surface,” said Mathieu Bérubé, Concordia SAE’s Baja Racing Coordinator.

Concordia has been using the same vehicle for about three years but have made changes to it. All aspects of the design are done in-house by students.

“We are basically re-building the same vehicle but if we need to change something we have to validate it first,” said Andrea Cartile, president of Concordia University SAE. “The theme of the year is to validate all the systems before making any changes.”

“We made changes to the rear suspension; we made some changes to the frames to meet the rules,” added Bérubé. “We changed the front suspension also to make it fit better and get better performance out of it.”

Concordia had a 50th place finish in the 2013 competition, which took place in Rochester, New York (McGill took first place). The lower finish had to do with a mechanical issue, a problem team leaders hope they won’t repeat this year.

“The last time we had rear suspension issues,” said Bérubé. “Two hours into the race it started bending but we ended up finishing anyway another two hours later.”

The Épreuve du Nord competition will help prepare Concordia’s Baja team for the upcoming Baja SAE Maryland competition, which will take place on May 7-10 in Baltimore, Maryland. Over 100 teams compete in SAE’s international Baja competitions, which originated in 1976.

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