The technical inspection area that is located between teams’ paddock area and “fan zone” where visitors may watch all the action on track and involved in interactive activities – consists of various sequential inspection gates such as dimension measurement, brake test, visibility test, turning radius and weight measurement.
According to Shell Global Technical Director, Norman Koch, “If the team failed at any inspection gate, they may not proceed to the next gate. However, they are free to have as many attempts as they would like to pass the inspection.”
The teams may compete in two categories; Prototype or Urban Mobility, but every inspection gate is designed to assure that every car in any category has the technical integrity to compete.
As the main purpose of Shell Eco-Marathon is to have an energy-efficient car, weight plays a big role in determining the car’s performance. However, the regulation mandates that every car must comply to certain dimension and minimum weight requirement including the driver.
“There is also a very fine line between cheating and interpreting the rules to a position of maximum advantage,” he added.
The car must also be liveable, especially for Urban Mobility category, as they must have maximum turning radius of eight metre. At the paddock, some teams can be seen modifying and altering their steering system to meet the turning radius required.
As in any other motorsports competition, safety is the top priority, in which the Shell Eco-Marathon makes no difference. Some of the inspections for safety aspects are brake test, time to exit and seatbelts or harnesses test. Each car is equipped with onboard fire extinguisher too.
Other than bringing the prototypes and ideas of future mobility, the competition also brings together future engineers from across the region with cutting-edge solution and the boys really know what they are doing.
This is proved by lots of high-end products and materials seen on the car such as carbon-fibre construction, lightweight reinforced engine parts, adjustable damper as well as suspension system derived from race cars.
To describe how energy-efficient the cars are, Norman told us, “Give one good pull to any direction of the wheel, it could spin freely for 15 minutes. That is how smooth the wheel bearings are.”
According to Ornuthai Na Chiangmai, General Manager of Shell Commercial Fleet Business, “The Shell Eco-Marathon gets the students to use the skills and lessons learnt in the competition for their future career, for future mobility.”
Current world record in the Shell Eco-Marathon is 3,770km per litre, by a French team in 2010, from gasoline fuel category. Meanwhile, winning distance for Shell Eco-Marathon Asia in 2015 is 1,572km per litre, provided by Team Virgin from Sakonnakhon Technical College, Thailand.
The Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2016 is held in Manila, Philippines from Mar 3-6, 2016. To find out more about the competition and keep updated, visit www.shell.com/ecomarathon or www.twitter.com/shell_ecomar or www.instagram.com/shell.
By: Amirul Hazmi