Switzerland’s Arc Team triumphed in the alternative fuel category, with their ethanol car doing the equivalent of 346.8 km/l, while ISEN Toulon / SCS of France’s battery-electric car won their class with 180.1 km per kilowatt hour. French domination of the competition was reaffirmed by La Joliverie Polytech Nantes, who topped the hydrogen category with 389.3 km per cubic metre.
Sunday’s Championship will see teams compete head-to-head to be the first across the finish line. Sixteen teams, the category winners and selected wildcards, will compete in three heats to make it to an eight-team final. But only one can win the inaugural Drivers’ World Championship.
For many though, just making it past the strict inspection process and around the track was a triumph.
London’s sloping and twisty track proved challenging for many teams used to the flat course in Rotterdam – which hosted the last four Shell Eco-marathon Europe events. Team Aalborg Energy of Denmark’s hydrogen fuel cell UrbanConcept car struggled to make it up London’s steeper slopes. Despite being one of the growing number of teams using 3D printers to make ultra-light plastic parts, they were unable to conquer the tougher track.
High-tech printing of small parts among the buzzing power tools of the paddock is one thing. At the other end of the scale, University of Southampton needed a whole new shell for their car after their supplier let them down. This left less time to prepare the rest of their car. But they pulled together to overcome a flat battery and failing brakes to pass technical inspection.
“My heart almost stopped on the break test,” Diogo Cardia-Lopes said, adding the team had started to lose hope of passing the final technical hurdle in time. “Some of our team cried.”
France’s Exergie Prototype gasoline team also fixed troublesome brakes, after days of trying, and squeezed through tech inspection with an hour to spare. Overall, 184 teams were given the all clear to compete.
The Prototype competition continues on Sunday.