Saint Thomas Academy from Minnesota has been crowned one of the regional winners of the Drivers’ World Championship at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2018.

The high school team from St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota, crossed the finish line first. The team will now travel to London to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon Drivers' World Championship Grand Final, held at Make the Future Live at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Three other cars were left to battle it out for the two remaining places. Second place went to a Canadian team from Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

In the race’s final lap, the internal combustion engine car from Evansville’s Mater Dei High School in Indiana made a furious charge from the back of the pack. It earned the team the third and final ticket to London.

“We added some extra burn on the first lap, and then the rest of the race, we just played off the other racers,” said Evansville driver Noah Blankenberger. “We knew how much fuel we had, and we stayed close enough to make a run at the end – but it was a nail-biter.”

They were among 98 teams from across the Americas that competed in Shell Eco-marathon Americas, which challenges students to compete with energy-efficient vehicles that they have designed and built.

Under perfect blue skies and sunshine, more than a thousand students gathered at Sonoma Raceway in California for the event which took place from April 19 to 22.

In 2018, each major Shell Eco-marathon competition culminates in the Drivers’ World Championship race, which awards the fastest and most energy-efficient vehicles. 

The Mileage Challenge

Ahead of Drivers’ World Championship, the Mileage Challenge took place. It is another key competition for Shell Eco-marathon Americas.

It sees teams make as many attempts as possible to travel the furthest, using the least amount of energy. Organisers calculate their energy efficiency and name a winner for each energy source – internal combustion engine, battery-electric and hydrogen.

Teams can choose to design and build one of two vehicle classes: UrbanConcept and Prototype. UrbanConcept cars are more familiar to modern-day vehicles and are designed according to a range of more roadworthy specifications. Prototype cars are built purely for efficiency, which is why they’re typically bullet-shaped around a single driver lying on his or her back.

Brigham Young University from Utah’s jet-black Prototype car managed to record 844 kilometres per litre (1985 miles per gallon) on the undulating Sonoma track. It took top prize in the Internal Combustion Engine category.

Duke University won both other energy categories in the Prototype class, achieving 592km/kWh (368 mi/kWh) in the battery-electric car and 617km/m3 (383mi/m3) in the hydrogen car.

In the UrbanConcept class, prizes went to Evansville Mater Dei (internal combustion engine), Saint Thomas Academy (battery-electric) and Cicero North Syracuse high School (hydrogen fuel cell).

This year’s event in Sonoma County, California, marked Shell Eco-marathon’s return to the Golden State, where it first launched in 2007.

Shanna Simmons, Shell Eco-marathon Global Technical Director said: "The Drivers’ World Championship is about speed and efficiency, so sharp engineering skills and a sound race strategy to manage energy usage are key to being the first vehicle across the finish line. All the teams did an excellent job, and I look forward to seeing the winners at the Grand Final in London.”

Norman Koch, General Manager, Make the Future Festivals added: “We saw amazing action and excitement and my congratulations go to all the teams. It’s exciting to watch students in the pursuit of more and cleaner energy."

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