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Day 4: Afternoon

Chumphol Sitthios is a happy man. His team, How Much Ethanol from Panjvidhya Technological College in Thailand, beat off well-established rivals to take the top prize at Shell Eco-marathon Asia.

“We are delighted!” he says. “Our customised car design and driver practice have paid off.”

Their winning distance of 2,730.8 km/l equivalent is not far off the all-time record of 2,903 km/l, set on the Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, in 2012. It is all the more impressive given the new, narrower urban track in Manila. Former champions and fellow Thais from Team Luk Jao Mae Khlong Prapa this time only managed 2,211.3 km/l, placing them second.

Thailand equally dominated the petrol Prototype class, taking first and second place: Team Virgin achieved 1,796.0 km/l equivalent. Malaysian teams won in the alternative diesel and hydrogen classes.

The top Prototype diesel distance was 616.2 km/l equivalent, achieved by Team Tongji from China. They had been first through technical inspection and first to record an official attempt.

Indonesian teams also performed well. Team Sadewa Otto from Indonesia won the petrol UrbanConcept prize: its 301.68km/l equivalent was well over three times more than the nearest competitor.  In the UrbanConcept diesel class Indonesian Team Mesin Polnep came first with 70.3 km/l equivalent.

place Holder
SEM Asia 2014 silver prototype

Team How Much Ethanol show one litre is enough to travel an incredible 2,730 km

Popular alternatives

The event shows the increasing spread of alternative fuels. Teams entered ethanol-fuelled UrbanConcept cars for the first time, although just one team managing to record a complete attempt: Team Horas Mesin from Indonesia won with 101.4 km/l equivalent.

The same was true in the UrbanConcept hydrogen class, proving the competition is not easy: team UiTM Eco-planet alone got to grips with the new circuit and achieved 44.5 km/kWh equivalent.

“It is so gratifying to win!” says team advisor Syed Mohd Harussani bin Syed Omar, "It validates the team's hard work.”

Top of the board for biodiesel, fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), was ITS Team 2 with 151.4 km/l equivalent. Driver Muhammad Irvan Anhar, can’t decide whether the team will party or finally get a full night of sleep.

In the battery electric class, Team ITERBO3 from Singapore retained their early lead, winning with 126.3 km/kWh equivalent – more than double the distance of runners-up De La Salle from the Philippines.

“Our car design was inspired by a ladybird,” says team advisor Joseph Heng. “In some cultures that represents good luck!”

SEM Asia 2014 car 124 on track

Positive thinking

Students’ energy and positivity have radiated all week. Earlier today, as teams were frantically making final adjustments to their cars inside, smoke began wafting from Team Ayutthaya Atcci’s booth. Their electric battery had overheated. The fire alarm sounded and students were quickly cleared from the building. Team Bio_energy from Hanoi University, Vietnam waited under the shade of a tree until they could safely re-enter.

“On the upside, at least this gives us a good chance to rest!” says driver Nguyen Viet Bang.

But the best example of determination was shown by Team MIT Eco-warriors from India. With their car stuck in Singapore customs they managed to borrow an old one from De La Salle University. Happy to be finally taking part, they worked non-stop to make the second-hand car fit for competition. Their combined efforts earned both teams the off-track award for perseverance.

Other awards handed out off track included communications, which went to Team PNEC UST from Pakistan for their community outreach, social media strategy and engagement with celebrities. Team NTU Diesel from Singapore, with its slick wooden car, picked up awards for safety and design.

A look ahead

As the event concludes, students gather for the award ceremony dinner. They will celebrate tonight then take some much-needed rest – before thinking about next year’s competition.

“The top distance achieved on this course is astonishing and shows excellent driver skills,” says Norman Koch Shell Eco-marathon Global Director. “Next year we hope to see more of the newer teams make it onto the leader board – and we expect records will be broken!”