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DAY 2: Teams prepare to test cars on the track

More than 200 teams of students from universities and schools in 27 countries are taking part in the 30th edition of Shell Eco-marathon Europe in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Their goal? To drive as far as possible on the least energy.

The first teams started arriving on Monday, 12 May. They come from all over Europe and as far away as Nigeria, Morocco, Turkey, Qatar, Ukraine and Russia. France is represented by the most teams (57), with Germany, Spain and Turkey each having 20.

The teams compete in two categories. Prototype vehicles are futuristic and streamlined, where the primary consideration is to reduce friction and maximise efficiency. UrbanConcept vehicles are more conventional, designed and built to roadworthy specifications suited to the needs of today’s drivers.

Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2014 - teams inspecting cars

Safety and compliance

Technical inspection opened yesterday, three hours ahead of schedule. Each team has to pass 10 test stations before they are allowed to progress to the next stage of the competition and test-run their cars in the practice sessions, which start this afternoon.

The test stations focus on safety and on verifying that the teams are complying with the rules. The drivers and cars are weighed, vehicle dimensions are taken, and the efficiency of the brakes, steering, safety belt and turning radius are all checked for compliance.

“The pressure is rising,” says Gilles Vanier, technical manager for Shell Eco-marathon Europe. Fifty-eight teams went through technical inspection yesterday and another 80 are expected today.

Confidence is high

First in the queue yesterday (Tuesday morning) was Team GAMF of Hungary. GAMF has been runners-up in the Prototype petrol category for the past two years. The students sailed through the technical inspection and are now waiting to test-run the car tomorrow afternoon.

“We’re confident that we can win our category this year,” says Maria Jakob, the team’s public relations manager. “We’ve already achieved 3,082 km per litre of petrol in this vehicle, and we are hoping to do even better this week.”

Last year’s winners of the Prototype petrol category, Microjoule La Joliverie of France, achieved 2,980 km per litre, the equivalent of driving across Europe from Gibraltar to Berlin.

40,000 visitors

Around 40,000 people are expected to visit this year’s Shell Eco-marathon. Over the five days of the event some 10,000 pupils from schools in the Rotterdam area will visit the Shell Energy Lab to explore and learn about the future of energy.

Tomorrow (Thursday), Shell and the City of Rotterdam will co-host once again the Powering Progress Together forum. The one-day conference focuses on the rising pressure on energy, water and food, particularly in the world’s growing cities. It attracts around 500 thought leaders from business, government and civil society.

Team getting their car ready for inspection