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New urban circuit record!

17:00 - Team Microjoule-La Joliverie, petrol Prototype, achieve 3,191 km/l equivalent (previous record 2,980 km/l)

Day 4 Afternoon: Prototype competition begins

A petrol-blue car with smooth contours is being polished by a team of devoted students.  “It’s for a photo,” says Cityjoule team captain 22-year-old Jonathan Le Cadre. “Not for better fuel efficiency!”

All eyes will be on this French team  which includes students from both Polytech Nantes and La Joliverie. They entered their hydrogen-powered UrbanConcept  car for the first time last year and walked away with the top distance in their category, 145.7 km /kWh. This year the team is aiming for 177 km/kWh and has made some technical adjustments. A so-called super-capacity system between the engine and the fuel cell will store energy for a smoother power flow.

Safety marshall overseeing track

Just behind in line is Dutch Green Team Twente, also competing on hydrogen. “We believe it’s the fuel of tomorrow,” says team member Jaap Bernsten.

His team’s car is covered in sensors that monitor the engine, motor controller, hydrogen fuel stack and speed. The data helps the team perfect their driving strategy. Jaap made the car’s carbon-fibre rims and in future wants to work with lightweight materials for race cars and the automotive industry. 

All shapes and sizes

A myriad of cars dot the Ahoy arena: one fish-like Prototype has side vents like gills, a streamlined tail and scales painted on; while a black-and-red car resembles the Batmobile.

The teams, too, are highly varied. Most consist of engineering students, where a higher ratio of boys to girls is common: for some the only female team member is the driver, because of her lighter weight. However, one team from Harlem in the Netherlands – with an average age of just 14 – has eight girls and just seven boys.

“More girls made it onto the team as, at our age, the boys are quite passive!” says driver Lusanne van Hensbergen. “Our teachers weren’t sure if we’d make it here, so we want to show what we can do.”

Team SGH has not yet passed technical inspection as they are still waiting for one part but hope to make it onto the track soon.

Flag off

At 15:00 the competition was officially opened by Dick Benschop, President Director of Shell Netherlands and Istvan Kapitany, Executive Vice President of Shell Global Fuel Retail. “I am sure that the creativity and hard work of the students will result in some new track records this year,” said Benschop.

Ten teams representing some of the 27 countries taking part at this year’s competition paraded over the start line. They included Remmi-Team from Finland, the only team to have taken part in Shell Eco-marathon Europe for the past 30 years. Team UPCT Solar from Spain also joined the ceremony. Their two female drivers are identical twins who weigh the same, an important factor since the Prototype cars are tailored to the driver’s body.

Staying safe

Professional race director for GT and Formula 3 races, Jeroen Frieman, is in charge of the track. Fifteen cameras are stationed at bends and other parts of the track to give him and his team an overview of what is happening in real time. Safety is the primary concern, but the camera footage can also be rolled back for analysis in case of an incident.

Yesterday Turkish team Kandó’s Prototype car took a tumble on the track. The driver was fine and the car was swiftly taken to safety. “The car went too fast around the bend,” says team member Istuàn Szendrei.

In all there are 72 people stationed around the 1.6 km track to ensure safety: 28 marshals, 28 Shell safety officers, four rescue teams with three staff in each team, and four medical personnel. No more than 30 cars are allowed on the track at any one time.

Watch the live results here

Flag off ceremony