All about the tech

Today the 127 teams now onsite – marking the best Shell Eco-marathon Asia turnout ever - must begin to run the gauntlet of technical inspection. Before they are allowed on the track to compete, they must move through seven separate stations with many as 15 exacting tests, as dozens of visitors look on.

All aspects of cars are given a “pass” or “fail”, from a maximum turning radius of 8 m for Prototypes or 6 m for UrbanConcept cars – crucial for getting around corners and overtaking rivals – to visibility through the windscreen. One fail means a return to the paddock to make crucial changes, then re-joining the queue to try again.

“The biggest challenge for teams are the seatbelts and brakes because we’re so focused on safety and protecting the driver,” said Technical team member Adrian Juergens.

Safety harnesses must be fixed in five places and hold at least 1.5 times the weight of the driver. Two braking systems – one at the front, one at the rear – must each be able to hold the car steady on the test station ramp.

First into the technical inspection is team Eco-Voyager from the University of Malaya with their battery electric Prototype car “Evora”, powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Last year they left the competition when part of the car fell off on-track.

Lying patiently inside the canoe-shaped, enclosed car is driver and mechanical engineering student Nadia Ahmad Hassan. Evora fails the seatbelt test because the buckle is wrongly attached. Only a minor change is needed, like most here today.

So far nobody has passed technical inspection.

The first UrbanConcept car into technical inspection is Symmetry 3.0 from local team TIP Mileage Proto of the Technological Institute of the Philippines. Engineering student Elvin Paul Barrameda explained that the team cut out and replaced sections of the car body to create wheel arches at the rear to satisfy a new rule this year. Symmetry 3.0 also failed on its seatbelt test, which had to be re-attached below shoulder height.