Ruari McCallion tries to keep up with composite manufacturer for F1 and high performance vehicles, epm: technology and its work with Guy Martin.
epm: technology has been supplying composite structures to customers in motorsport, aerospace, automotive, defence and other industries since 1996, but its highest-profile projects, so far, have been two vehicles for Guy Martin, the speed-obsessed motorbike racer and truck mechanic.
His ‘Speed with Guy Martin’ series for Channel 4 featured successful – if hair-raising – world record attempts in a snow sledge and a gravity-powered soap box.
“We were approached in 2014 by North One TV with the task of designing and manufacturing a gravity sledge for Channel 4’s Speed with Guy Martin,” said Graham Mulholland, managing director of epm: technology group.
The company partnered with a team from Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sports Engineering Research, which was led by Dr Heather Driscoll and including Alice Bullas, Dr John Hart, Terry Senior, Prof Steve Haake and Christina King.
The sled was, in essence, a ski-mounted composite canopy whose function was to reduce drag. “We carefully optimised the sledge for pure speed with the aid of F1 technology. Guy spent three days on site where we took him through the entire process and ensured he played an active role in the design phase.”
The episode centred on an attempt to break the world sledding speed record, at the ski resort of Grandvalira. Martin took a 984 ft (300m) run with a 360 ft (110m) drop – steeper than the main climbing route of Mount Everest.
After a highspeed crash during practice, which destroyed the sled, he smashed the world record, reaching more than 83 mph (134 kph) and beating previous record holder Rolf Allerdissen[s mark by 21 mph.
After their triumph in the Swiss Alps, the same team – epm: technology, Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Sports Excellence and Guy Martin – built a ‘soap box’: a gravity powered and fully-enclosed kart. It set a record for gravity-powered vehicles of 85.612 mph on a course down Mont Ventoux, a regular feature of the Tour de France.
When trying for an even faster run, Guy crashed the vehicle and destroyed it. The composite structure protected him from serious injury; he walked away, laughing that it was one of the best days of his life.