Day 4: March 1st, 2015

Thailand has emerged overall victor for the second year running at the Shell Eco-marathon Asia event in Manila, Philippines – an event that saw five new records set.

Thai team Virgin from Sakonnakhon Technical College, with their car Thao Pha Dang Nang Ai, drove the equivalent of 1,572 km/l in the Prototype alternative fuel category to take the top prize. Imagine the distance between Manila and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

This year’s victors won in the Prototype gasoline category last year with 1,796 km/l. In 2015, they decided to switch to ethanol for a new challenge built a new vehicle with a carbon fibre body to keep it lighter.

Driver Boonlam Phomkam is thrilled. “It is hard to win, but even tougher to hang on to the championship,” he said.  

Victory clean and simple

Clean Diesel Team from Hyogo Prefectural Tajima Technical Institute, Japan’s only entrant, clinched first place in the Prototype diesel category with a new record mileage of 1,245 km/l, more than double last year’s winning score. They also won the  off-track award  for vehicle design.

"This car was made in 2004, and every year we keep making small improvements to get better mileage,” said team advisor Toshinari Fujii. A small team with just three members and one supporting member, they practice 2-3 hours each weekday and 8 hours on weekends.

Team ATE.1 from Kong Thabbok Upatham Changkol Kho So Tho Bo School in Thailand drove their Prototype gasoline car the equivalent of 1,490 km/l, winning their category, but they were not able to match last year’s 1,796 km/l performance by team Virgin.

Team advisor Bunma Nawathong said, “Their body was made of fibre. Ours is aluminium and heavier, but we will try to make changes for next year."

Urban track stars

Also doubling last year’s result was ITS Team 2 from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember Indonesia, who recorded 153 km/l in the UrbanConcept diesel category.

Other teams achieving new mileage records include Team LH – Gold Energy of Lac Hong University, Vietnam who won the UrbanConcept alternative fuel category with 164 km/l on ethanol, and Prototype battery electric champion Team NSTRU Eco-Racing from Nakhon Si Thammarat Rajabhat University Thailand with a mileage of 451 km/kWh. Team UiTM Eco-Sprint from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Shah Alam Malaysia is champion in the Prototype Hydrogen Fuel Cell category again with their 315 km/m3 equivalent record.

"We are very happy to be the first Vietnamese team ever to win at a Shell Eco-marathon Asia event,” said Le Phuong Long, LH – Gold Energy team leader.

Technology to cry for

For many teams, passing technical inspection is more important than the track competition, giving them the chance to learn and validate their skills. Eventually, 112 out of the 127 cars had made the grade.

Members of DLSU-D Stallions, first-timers from the Philippines, including Jan Ian Karlo Peralba, wept when their Prototype gasoline car passed. "It took us two days to fix the fuel system and steering so we are emotional."

Project Garuda and car Phoenix from India, featured on Friday, made it onto the track as their third attempt to visit the Shell Eco-marathon paid off.

Perseverance and team spirit

Throughout the week, stories of determination and care for others abounded.

Team UM from the University of Mindanao in the Philippines had no money for a place to stay in Manila. Instead, they stayed with a friend 2-3 hours away from the venue, leaving the paddock at 10 pm but still making it back in time for the daily 7 am briefing.

Enthusiastic newcomers Team Alfaisal from Saudi Arabia won the off-track award for perseverance and team spirit  . Their car arrived last, 1.5 days late, but they stayed calm and positive, even donating a spare motor to Philippine team DLSU-D Stallions when theirs broke.

Driver and team leader Abdulmoshin Albabtain said, “It was all for one and one for all.” Sadly, their Shell Eco-marathon ended in the pit stop just metres from the track in the Prototype competition’s final seconds.

Signing off from Manila 2015

Once the final day had come to a close, students came together for an awards ceremony and dinner.

“I’m proud to see more teams and more nations joining the Shell Eco-marathon family this year. It’s very impressive that new starters from countries like Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bangladesh have made successful runs,” said Norman Koch, Shell Eco-marathon Technical Director.

Asia now passes the baton to the Americas for the next Shell Eco-marathon, taking place from April 9 to 12 in Detroit, the USA’s “Motor City”.

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