The Great Britain four-man bobsleigh team spent time in the wind tunnel simulators at the BAE Systems jet-building facility in Warton, Lancashire, as part of their preparation for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on February 7.
The team has been working closely with aerodynamic experts from BAE and McLaren Applied Technologies, to test how different sled set-ups and crew positions affect wind resistance at speeds over 65 mph. One area they focused on was tracking the impact the kit worn by the team had on race position and aerodynamics on the track.
The aerodynamic advice will hopefully shave the hundredths of seconds off the team’s time that could be the difference between winning and losing.
Before jetting out to the Games, bobsleigh pilot John Jackson said:
“When it comes to the Winter Olympics you need a bit of luck with the right conditions, but there are a lot of things you can do to make your own luck.
“If you can get the right equipment and four good runners, you have a chance, but anything you can do which can give you an edge, you need to do if you want to win a medal.”
Jackson added: “A lot of nations have done this and we need to be sure the equipment we are using is up to the right specification to ensure we get the best from it.
“As a team, we are still learning and growing, so to be doing that supported by this kind of equipment and expertise, can only make us better.”
The wind tunnel reaches speeds of 240mph when testing jets, which battered the team with speeds of nearly 80mph winds to recreate the speeds they will reach in competition.
According to performance director for the GB team, Gary Anderson, the world’s best teams have access to wind tunnel facilities to analyse the margins that can give them the edge.
He said: “We need this type of world-class facility if we are going to compete at the highest level.
“We can do everything we can do to get our guys to their peak but there is no question aerodynamics play a huge part in this sport, and that is where the experts come in.”