Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2015 Results

It was a welcome turn around for the Toronto team.  Perennial favourites, Laval University of Quebec, had beaten them on the final day last year in Houston. This year, on Detroit’s hilly streets, just across the river from Canada, it was a different script.

Laval had posted an astounding 3,365 miles per gallon (1431 kilometres per litre) mark by mid-day Sunday and seemed secure to take its sixth victory out of the last seven Shell Eco-marathon Americas events. Their Toronto rivals battled problems all day, including four failed runs and a crash. “We had problems with our battery, and our steering actually broke,” said driver Kristine Confalone.

Then, on their seventh and final outing, it all came together: “We were one of the last cars on the track,” Confalone said. “We were really lucky to be able to go again right after and get that last one in.”  The last run hit the jackpot at 3,421 miles per gallon (1,454 kilometres per litre) – two percent better than Laval.

This is Toronto’s first time taking home the grand prize.  Laval still holds the Shell Eco-marathon Americas all time record of 3,587 miles per gallon (1506 kilometres per litre) it set two years ago in Houston.

 

Other winners

Mater Dei high school maintained its hold on the UrbanConcept category, posting another win with their gasoline car, last year’s winner “Elroy,” at 485 mile per gallon (206 kilometres per litre).  The Evansville, Indiana team also won the Prototype battery-electric category in its Supermileage-3 car with an efficiency rating of 450 miles (724 kilometres) per kilowatt hour. They also took third place in the Prototype gasoline category.

Colorado’s Wheat Ridge High School takes the Prototype hydrogen fuel cell crown back to the Rockies, with a 151 miles (240 kilometres) per kilowatt-hour efficiency rate. Nicole Ortega drove the car: ““We never expected to come and win. We expected to come and have a good time and do our best, but we never expected to do this well.”

University of Colorado Boulder will carry the Prototype alternative fuels award back west for the second straight year. Team member Aliie Bol said they lost chains and fought though electrical problems, but finally got a couple good runs Sunday: ““We won last year so reigning champs. That’s good.” Their car, “Tatonkatoo” posted 842 miles per gallon (358 kilometres per litre) burning ethanol.

Sullivan High School had clutch problems and even threw the drive chain, but still won the Prototype diesel category for a third straight year with a mark of 1,436 miles per gallon (611 kilometres per litre).

Collaboration in competition

Problem solving under pressure is a big part of the Shell Eco-marathon experience, so is helping others. Despite the competition inherent in the event, when someone is in trouble, collaboration and camaraderie usually wins out. From motor controller malfunctions to leaky hydrogen fuel cells, schools have worked together across paddocks and country borders.

When one school needed a kill switch, students from the University of Texas at El Paso stepped up with a loaner. Another unplanned partnership developed between Louisiana Tech and the University of Houston, sharing information to get their compressed natural gas (CNG) cars running.

Of course most teams don’t win, and don’t expect to. Many take pride in passing milestones and meeting individual goals. The University of Alberta Edmonton was only team out of eight to pass the hydrogen fuel cell inspection test on their first try. Universite de Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, didn’t have a fuel injection system when they arrived to Detroit, but were able to build one on-site and compete on the track before closing.

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