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Day 4: All about results!

The team from Quebec struggled through a seeming mountain of problems over the past two days – excess friction, electrical short circuits and others – but in the end, the Canadians solved enough of them to drive away with their fifth top mileage prize out of the past six Shell Eco-marathon Americas competitions.

The team’s winning equivalent-efficiency figure of 2,824 miles per gallon (1200 kilometres per litre) was good enough to win, but far behind the Shell Eco-marathon Americas all time high mark of 3,587 miles per gallon (1506 kilometres per litre) it set last year. Laval captain Audrey Lainé was exultant: “Our team is very excited with the results of the weekend. We had issues with our engine, but we came together as a team and fixed it,” she said. “The weekend was great!”

Prototype from Mater Dei at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2014

First place slipped away

The University of Toronto team was a close second place with its carbon-fibre bodied petrol Prototype. The black torpedo-shaped entry ran strong Saturday and led the competition early Sunday, but a malfunction in its custom designed motor doomed its chances against their fellow Canadians. Even so, their 2,712 miles per gallon (1,150 kilometres per litre) was a major improvement over last year when they didn’t even make a run.

Mater Dei High School is another traditionally strong competitor and didn’t disappoint. Their petrol UrbanConcept car, “Elroy”, took top honours in its class, as it did last year, with a 901 mile per gallon (378 kilometres per litre) figure. The Evansville, Indiana, team also won the battery-electric Prototype category with an efficiency rating of 537 miles per kilowatt hour (864 kilometres per kilowatt hour). They also were third in petrol Prototype.

Sullivan High School’s work after yesterday’s runs paid off. The team from southeast Indiana recorded a a winning mileage equivalent of nearly 1,900 miles per gallon (807 kilometres per hour) with its diesel Prototype entry. University of Colorado at Boulder’s “killer whale” painted ethanol Prototype swam away with its category, posting a 1,771 mile per gallon (744 kilometres per litre) final number.

UrbanConcept cars at Shell Ecomarathon Americas 2014

Competition and camaraderie

Of course most teams don’t win. Many come just to reach a team goal.  Blake O’Connell drove Wawasee High School’s petrol Prototype: “Last year we hit 695 miles per gallon,” she said. “On our first run, we made it to 754 miles per gallon. So already we’re good.”

For most, if not all the teams, the part of Shell Eco-marathon Americas they value most is camaraderie among the teams and the help they give each other in working through problems.  Erick Solys led a team from Mexico that, unable to pass the safety and technical inspections, never got onto the track: “We made an attempt,” he said. “We have some feelings, but we’re encouraged and plan to be in Detroit in 2015.”

After five years in Houston, Shell Eco-marathon Americas moves to Detroit, Michigan, in 2015.