After several days of sunny skies and strong competition, the famously fickle English weather brought an abrupt end to the final of the Shell Eco-marathon Drivers’ World Championship (DWC).
Thousands of visitors to Make the Future Live had enjoyed unusually hot and sunny weather for most of the four-day event. But the grand final had to be abandoned mid-race as rain hammered down on the track in east London. With the wet weather making it unsafe to finish the race, a US high-school team from the Saint Thomas Academy in Minnesota was declared the winner because it was the fastest in qualifying.
“We couldn’t have even dreamed that we would end up winning the entire competition,” said Patrick Gaylord, driver of Saint Thomas Academy’s battery-electric car. “There were so many great teams.”
Hot weather also played a role in determining the fuel-efficiency results earlier in the competition, before the clouds gathered ominously over London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park late on the last day.
More than 170 student teams from 29 countries gathered in London to see who could navigate the 1.6-km track with the least fuel. But some struggled to adapt their cars to the hot and sunny conditions that dominated most of the competition.
Shell Eco-marathon is split into two broad design categories. The Prototype class focuses on maximum efficiency. Energy efficiency is also important for the UrbanConcept category, but this class encourages more practical car-like designs. Over the course of the competition, teams make several attempts to travel the furthest on the equivalent of one litre of fuel or one kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity.
Dominant French force Microjoule-La Joliverie won the Prototype category again, achieving 2,503.9 km/litre equivalent with their compressed natural gas car this year. But it fell short of their winning attempt of 2,606.4 km/l during last year’s event. That’s the same as driving from London to Milan and back on less than a litre of fuel.
French domination of the energy-efficiency competition was reinforced by TED team from Toulouse, which came second in the Prototype challenge with 2,137.6 km/l equivalent for their gasoline car. TED managed 2,300.1 km/l in their gasoline car last year. Microjoule’s gasoline record of 3,771 km/l, set in 2010, remains unchallenged.
Italy’s Team Zero C won the battery-electric Prototype category with 753.2 km/kWh, while Germany’s ThaiGer-H2-Racing Straslund won the hydrogen class with 880.5 km per cubic metre.
Team Toulouse Ingénierie Multidisciplinaire also beat the heat to set a new world record for the UrbanConcept Internal Combustion Engine category. The team from France achieved 684.7 km/l, beating the previous category record set in 2015 by 20 km/l.