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Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:09 am
by won
Hello friends,

In case you don't get enough of me on Facebook, thought I would give a quick update on my adventure as it's starting to get really exciting :D

Following on from my last post, I finished school in 2013 and started working a Formtech Composites. It's basically the composite department of Super Aguri F1 reincarnated after they went bust, so we had some interesting projects in every level of motorsport, aerospace, you name it. The highlight of it for me was, however, with this particular customer for whom I was managing their project. With a lot of hard work and some dumb luck, I found myself (and of course Kristina, to thank her for all her support) inside Porsche Motorsport hospitality and garage at the season opener in Silverstone for the 2015 WEC season where I bumped into this old chap:

The one day I forgot to wear my flat cap!!!

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:14 am
by won
(I'm too lazy to host pictures elsewhere so it's one picture per post then)

Without going into too much detail, much of what you can see (and can't see) is what we made. I usually do everything from start to finish (CAD>laminating>fitting) for each part at least once, so I can understand the process, but also to say "hey I made that!" :)

The cars were still hot after the qualifying session - where Porsche took 1-2 while we were sitting in hospitality. That was fun!

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:27 am
by won
Absolutely the coolest and best earned selfie.

It was a culmination of many things - long hours, moving countries and leaving friends and family behind, all the (what seemed like) pointless hours spent on my 911 and with the UBCSCC :roll: Even my most optimistic plans didn't include standing next to a still-hot Porsche LMP1 I helped build (to a point) just 2.5 years into this new life. So in the end, it was, above all, validation of our decision to come here and a milestone for our long term plan.

Of course I have to thank Kristina for her understanding and support for my passion. Beyond that, I think she does enjoy being at the race track even though she complains about the rain and the wind (who wouldn't at Silverstone in the spring time?). So by now my boss knew, and the design department head at Porsche knew, that for me it was more than just a job on many levels, which they seemed to appreciate.

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:46 am
by won
So, the process of connecting the dots between Kodiak Motorsport (Langley, BC) and Porsche Motorsport (Weissach, DE) was well underway. Having put the latest dot at Formtech Composites (Oxford, UK), there was only one logical step to take next: move to Germany.

As I have come to find out - the vast majority of people in motorsport, as intense as the industry as a whole can be, are really down to earth, good people. I for one ended up with quite a few friends at Porsche Motorsport in various levels - which I'm sure will come in handy one day soon. But in the meantime (because the team is currently full, and I know because I asked), I wanted to get closer to that ultimate goal, already having learned that location really can make all the difference.

Then I came across a job posting for surface/composite/bodywork designer at a world rally team. Rally, you say? Part of my UBCSCC experience was running TSD rallies with Larry "Rarry" Louie in his Yaris as a navigator. If you go all the way back (and I also used this answer in my interview with Toyota Motorsport GmbH, but that's a different story), the original Sega Rally would be probably where my interest in motorsport started. So it was only fitting that I would do my time in this corner of motorsport for a while.

Enter Hyundai Motorsport GmbH (Alzenau, DE). It's just outside of Frankfurt and of course operated by the Korean company at the top level, but the actual team is more-or-less ex-Peugeot rally department so also full of French people, in addition to the Germans, Italians, Spanish, etc... What a perfect place to start our non-English speaking life. I've been here a month now, but already have learned a lot and worked on some interesting projects. For sure, rally is a different beast altogether to F1 or WEC. Most importantly though, it ticks the big box on my next job requirement: work for a world championship team. I'm not in the beer league anymore!

I have a feeling we'll be here for a while, but then who knows what will happen?

As a closing point, if anyone is interested in going into motorsport or automotive, please feel free to get in touch. I have had some good help along the way, and it's only fair that I reciprocate. Also doens't hurt that I have someone I can speak to in all F1, LMP1 and WRC teams, not to mention all the top car makers, electric car companies, that are all very nice people. As I've come to find out, who you know can be very important in this game.

So until next time, enjoy!

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:44 pm
by won
I got a ride in the WRC car today.

It was a test day and I was sent to support the part I designed and only finished putting together last night. We were at a proving ground which had the small circuit with some simulated "European countryside hairpins" you can see in the middle bit. Lots of powerslide and e-brake turns. The car was on gravel setup/tyres so it was very soft, but still the transient response was amazing. Plus being driven by a professional race driver was cool too, this guy certainly knew what he was doing!

The test programme was cut short unfortunately, but as a result I got to see the crew strip the whole car down and put it back together in 2 hours after the car stalled in water up to the bonnet. Somehow the engine survived despite the turbo pumping every cylinder full of water and fired right up.

Top tip: don't go into single seaters/prototypes as you definitely won't get a ridealong in those. Something road car based would be a better bet :wink:

PS - Prüfzentrum tend to have a lot of cool cars running around in disguise. Awesome.


Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:16 am
by won

Hyundai wins 2016 Rally Argentina! It was also the driver's first win, first for a New Zealander and first for me!

We already had one race in Mexico after I joined but I felt properly invested in this one. I'd say it's because I actually contributed to the car this time, with one system in particular (from the post above) which was crucial to keep the cars running through the many "watersplash" features Argentina is known for. Bad news for me, as the crossing were extra deep this year thanks to unusually high rainfall. Honestly, I was quite nervous about my part, as it was my first project and not exactly related to my job as a bodywork/surfacing designer. When one of the cars stopped after a watersplash on Friday (we were all following the race which started in the afternoon), it was particularly stressful... Then the word came that the car died multiple times, and the chief designer said " if it was the watersplash, the engine dies once. If it died multiple times, it also means it started multiple times too". You can imagine my feeling of relief, first at the end of the first stage, then at the end of day 1, and finally to finish the race with all 3 engines still running :D

It's been a long time since I really followed a WRC race. Two of our drivers were mixing it up at the sharp end. When the leading VW driver crashed out on Saturday due to suspension failure, Paddon finished the day with a 30s lead over the next car driven by the current world champion. With 3 stages to run on Sunday, after the penultimate stage the gap was down to 2.6 seconds... Many a good driver in the past has chocked in this situation (which is all too familiar for a Canucks fan too), but it was an absolutely amazing run by Paddon to actually get 9 seconds up on Ogier, to finish with some 11s gap. Following the race over 3 days was, well, draining but also quite exciting especially when it's down to a gap of seconds before the final stage. Another thing I thought, the current WRC car is probably slower than a Subaru STI on paper, but the amount of abuse they go through and the engineering to minimise (not avoid) damage over hundreds of km's (SS + transit) is very cool indeed.

So with it, I think I've covered the full experience of me joining a new team. Pretty much the only thing left is a world championship win, which may or may not be possible for us in 2016 (but we keep pushing anyway). I'm really looking forward to going into work tomorrow, it will be a great atmosphere there for sure.


Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 1:23 pm
by won
Hard to believe it's been over a year since I posted about the last Argentina win! About time for another one, because we just won it again 8)

For those not following WRC, we've had quite a season already. Four different drivers/manufacturers winning the first 4 races, and now we are the first to win 2 with the latest. But for most of the weekend it looked set for the 5th new winner though, which made for an amazing race till the last car on the last stage crossed the line. Officially it was the 3rd closes finish ever in WRC (0.7s between 1st and 2nd). Best of all, it was the first consecutive win by someone not named Sebastien since 2008 (I think). There is a lot of the season left to run, and we'll keep pushing.

Of course, it could have been a somewhat different picture, had we not squandered our big lead and crashed out on Saturday afternoon, in BOTH of the first two races. As I joined the team mid-season last year, the first races of 2017 were, well, my first "beginning of the season" experience. To start the season by giving up 2 almost certain wins, was disappointing to say the least. But on the upside, our car is fast. And one of the competitors seems to be doing his best Colin McCrash impression :mrgreen:

The past year went by quickly. At work, it was quite busy designing 2 sets of bodywork for the all-new car ("stage 1" for test car + final spec). Although I worked in composites before, it was a big step up to do the bodywork design, and I definitely learned a lot of new things. Most importantly, a welded steel chassis is not as accurate as fully moulded and machined monocoque! Best to put a lot of adjustments and tolerances in the design ;) The rules are more open this year for composite application in other areas, so we did some interesting things elsewhere on the car too. Personally, we did a lot of traveling but not specifically relating to motorsport. To make up for it, we're going back to Le Mans next month. It was my lovely wife's idea. It will be her first time, and she'll get the full experience of sleeping wet and cold in the grand stands at 2AM, getting woken up by Corvettes and Astons every lap :twisted: Toyota is doing well in WEC, obviously, and I hope they learned their lesson and have a failsafe (e.g. split fuel/air control for each bank of the engine) to not repeat last year's heartbreak. Also Spa and Monza are in the pipeline, we will see how it goes.

Lastly, I believe one of our fellow UBCSCCer is following their racing dream and moving to the UK later this year. All the best!


Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 6:26 pm
by musicaltunes
I can't believe no one has posted in this thread before, but this has definitely been an awesome read! Best of luck to you in your motor sports endeavours!

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 12:39 pm
by won
Thanks! I was rather enjoying the echo chamber all by myself :) I've had some PM conversations with people since I started this thread, and all I can say is that if you like motorsport, it's worth giving it your best shot. After all, most of us have to work for the majority of our life, so why not do something fun? High stress, sometimes, but always fun. Of course, in terms of job stability, there is the ever-present threat of your team pulling the plug one day (even big ones, just look at VW Motorsport or Audi LMP), but that's half the fun, isn't it? :roll:

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:03 am
by won
Time for another update.

I'm joining Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team in January. Really looking forward to this new challenge!


Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:25 am
by Steffii
!!!! Oh my god congratulations Won!

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:59 am
by lowside67
That's fantastic news Won! What will your role within the team be? A genuine congratulations for making the difficult decision to pack up, move abroad, and pursue your dream - that would have been a tough decision and I don't know that I could have but am glad you did!


Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:26 pm
by won
Hey guys, thanks a lot! I had 2 offers to choose from, between designing the front wing in the composite group or brake ducts in the mechanical group. In the end I decided to keep going with composites. As I understand, the job's not just designing the parts but also doing all the testing rigs and validation program. It will be a big change of pace and level of detail from anything I've done before; even WRC pales in comparison. Through the interviews and negotiations I felt ready and confident, but now that I've had some time to reflect on it (interviews were back in June), I'm getting a bit nervous to be honest! But also more and more excited :)

Mark, the decision to leave, at the time, was actually easy. But knowing what we know, I wonder if we would do it again. There were definitely some difficulties along the way, and Kristina has had to sacrifice a lot of her own career. Financial planning is difficult, and family planning impossible when we're moving countries every 2 or 3 years. But I am really happy that I set out to do this for a living, and somehow managed to join the top team in 5 years. This move does feel a bit like vindication not just for me but for everyone who was supporting me to get here.

Speaking of vindication, I have no regrets about time and money I spent in the name of "racing" while I was at UBC :lol: In the end, most of what I remember from undergrad is whatever I did with the UBCSCC, and those are good memories. Sometimes I do wish I remembered a bit more of my actual degree, but hey, can't have it all.

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:52 pm
by KLPhotographYi

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:32 pm
by won
Well, that was a blur. Never lost faith but it was a hard-fought season and certainly one to tell the grandchildren (if that ever happens). It still feels quite surreal; "you're a long way from home, Dorothy." Now the only way is onwards and upwards. As ever, if you want to chat about this career or just shoot the bull, I'm happy to oblige.

This is my first F1 car and my front wing. Can you believe that? It's incredible how quickly one can get desensitised to this amazing environment, so sometimes it's necessary to take a step back and see the forest.

Plenty of room for 1 more plaque this season, let's go!

Re: Quick update

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:08 pm
by won
Another season done. We now have 3 UBC alumni in the team - Evan, Hillary and me. That's better representation than any other Canadian university, well done :lol: