Optimum Motorsport began its motorsport journey back in 2007 and has enjoyed a successful career in GT racing ever since. The team were crowned overall British GT4 champions in 2013 and 2016, also claiming the Pro/Am title in 2017 and more recently, the 2018 driver championship. Optimum Motorsport has also won the SP3 division of the Dubai 24 hours three times along with other prestigious endurance race wins.
Showcasing high-end technologies
Driving the team towards their 2016 victory, alongside Graham Johnson, was Mike Robinson who has re-joined Optimum Motorsport for their 2020 British GT campaign; racing two Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4’s which feature Bcomp’s natural fibre composite materials.
As well as being a race driver for Aston Martin Customer Racing Team, Optimum Motorsport, Robinson is also a director of UKIP Media and Events, the organisation behind a wide variety of technical trade shows, conferences and publications. These include the Professional Motorsport World Expo (PMW) show, the Plastics Free World Conference & Expo and the Future of Transportation Conference to name a few.
“I think the whole world is looking at how we are using non-renewable resources and a lot of engineering companies are now looking at more sustainable solutions that have less impact on the environment and are more recyclable”, says Robinson. “Motorsport has always been an area where companies showcase high-end technologies and obviously carbon fibre is quite an environmentally unfriendly material. It exhibits many fantastic properties, which is why it’s heavily used in motorsport, but I think we need to start looking at renewable alternatives – that’s the kind of stuff I get excited about.”
Increasing performance with sustainable solutions
Of course, motorsport is a performance-driven industry and no technology would survive if it didn’t increase performance on the racetrack. However, the environmental benefits of natural fibre composites add another dimension to Bcomp’s products. This not only becomes an attractive selling point for sponsors but also promotes a much wider message.
“When people realised what some of the parts were made of, everyone was talking about it and it attracted a lot of attention”, says Robinson. “From a driver’s perspective, driving a racecar with natural fibre composites as opposed to carbon fibre doesn’t feel any different physically. But it is comforting to know that the car I’m driving is more environmentally friendly than my competitors, without sacrificing performance or cost.”
Usually when alternative materials enter the market, they come with a price tag, but Bcomp’s natural fibre composites are actually lower cost when compared to the likes of carbon fibre. This is because the raw material cost of the ampliTex™ plus powerRibs™ sustainable lightweighting solution is up to 30% lower than conventional carbon fibre layups.
From racetrack to road
The capabilities of natural fibre composites also extend into the automotive sector, with Bcomp’s powerRibs™ reducing weight by up to 50% and drastically reducing plastic in car interior panels. These benefits to the roadcar industry could help encourage manufacturers to showcase their use of sustainable technologies through motorsport.
“It would be great to see more of these materials incorporated into automotive, particularly as we want more manufacturer involvement in motorsport”, highlights Robinson. “Each year in British GT more manufacturers have got involved because they want to use motorsport to showcase their latest cars. But they’ll only continue doing that if there’s good reason to, and if they can help promote sustainable technologies through their motorsport activities then that’s another good thing.”
“In the current eco-climate motorsport can be seen as a wasteful and ‘dirty’ industry and I think it’s only a matter of time before people ask the question “is motorsport viable in this current environmental crisis?” So, anything that can help improve the perception of motorsport and help people to understand that it can be a platform for developing sustainable technologies is crucial”, concludes Robinson. “Natural fibre composites not only match the performance of conventional composites, but they reduce costs and have the added advantage of being sustainable. Combining these three factors is the key behind Bcomp’s success in both the motorsport and automotive industries.”