World superbike champion Carl Fogarty opens new £5.6 million RATH centre at Blackburn College

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Former World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty got behind the wheel of a Formula One car at Blackburn College to mark the opening of their new £5.6million RATH centre.


The Regional Automotive Technology Hub (RATH) is set to revolutionise facilities for students who want to work in the motor vehicle industry.
The purpose-built building includes an MOT testing lane, rolling road, open plan workshops, a motor vehicle diagnostic iLab, five classrooms, an IT suite and two joinery workshops.


Blackburn College’s new centre will accommodate a range of courses including Light Vehicle, Auto Electrical and Motorsport, which are accredited by nationally recognised awarding bodies City & Guilds and IMI Awards.
‘Foggy’ was put through his paces in an full-size F1 simulator.


Carl set a fastest lap around Monza, which the students had to beat – and there was also an appearance by the ‘Blackburn College Stig’.
Carl, who is a four times World Superbike Champion and seven times World Champion, was full of praise for the new centre.


“This is a fantastic facility, not just for Blackburn College but the whole of East Lancashire,” he said. "It’s great to have an amazing asset like this right on our doorstep – there was certainly nothing like this when I left school and trained to be a mechanic before taking up racing.Hopefully it will inspire young people to pursue a career in the automotive industry.”


The College achieved a 100% success rate in its vocational motor vehicle course results last week, so the centre will be another huge boost.
The facility was developed with input from leading North West motor dealerships the Chorley Nissan Group, Bowker BMW, Blackburn Audi and Simpsons Skoda.


Chris Wright, Assistant Principal for Curriculum, STEM and Workbased Learning at Blackburn College, said the new centre was the fruition of two years of planning, from construction to completion.


“We’ve had phenomenal support from industry and area bodies, and that support will continue.What we have designed and built here is unique throughout the country, with the number and range of industry partners involved.We hope this will attract students from a wider catchment area as the technology and resources they can access here is second to none. It puts us in a very strong position within the motor industry.We’re also going to be working with smaller garages so we’ll have a good mix.”

Andy Turner, Managing Director of the Chorley Group and one of the partners involved in the project, said:

This is a massive boost for the motor industry in East Lancashire and beyond. Students at Blackburn College will be able to access some of the very latest technology which will help to prepare them for a career in the motor industry.”

Bardsley Construction, based in Dukinfield in Greater Manchester, were joined on the building project by Bury-based property consultants Pearson Fraser and Manchester-based architects DLA Architecture.

27 Aug 2014, 19:34 PM