The final day of the Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2016 started sunny and bright for the Prototypes, who would have their last race to determine their category winners. Today was also the day that the newly introduced Drivers’ World Challenge would be held. It was a first for this format of race, so I had sensed a little nervousness around the Paddock the night before from staff and competitors. The format was more like the F1 races you see on TV, with cars starting on a grid, setting off all at once and trying to beat each other to the finish line. Although for the Eco-Marathon cars they were trying to do this whilst also using as little energy as possible.
In the morning I was stationed at Track Marshal position 5 and although it was a quiet morning for me, it was still a busy one for the Track Marshals around me. A car misjudged the corner just after position 4 and crashed into the barrier, which sent my Track marshals racing to help. I remained at position 5, as other cars were still racing and I was needed there to keep watch. The driver was helped from the car and apart form being shocked was not hurt. The car was removed from the track quickly and the driver was more concerned about the car them themselves.
Shortly after we started to see smoke from further down the track. One of my Marshals ran down to see if more help was needed while I waited with concern about what might have happened. It turns out that a Marshal had spotted smoke coming from a car and it had been flagged down to check. The driver was helped from the car safely but it was clear that there was something very wrong with the vehicle. The attentiveness of the Marshals and their quick actions meant that a serious fire was averted. Instead the driver was made safe & flames extinguished before they were able to take hold.
It brought home to me just how important the role of the Safety On Track Team and the presence of the Track Marshals are. Our jobs aren’t just about removing broken down cars from the track. We have to be alert at all times, aware of all the cars, looking out for signs of damage to them that could pose a danger to other cars and their drivers; and checking for signs that a car is in trouble, such as in this case where smoke was seen.
After the Prototype race finished the track underwent a few alterations to change the Start/Finish line and to set up the grid markings ready for the Drivers’ World Challenge. The Urban Concept category winners from North America, Asia and Europe 2016 Eco-Marathons were to race head to head in a bid to be the fastest and most energy efficient driver.
The Safety On Track Team were given new posts & I found myself at Track Marshal Position 16, right opposite the entrance to the Paddocks. For this race the post had two new tasks. To check the speed of each car as it passed the post (there was a maximum speed limit of 50 km/hr) and during the qualifying laps wave the yellow flag to slow cars down so they could exit the track. I was very excited when I was put in charge of the speed gun and the flag.
It was much quieter than I thought it would be, but on a few occasions we watched carefully as cars vied for position on our part of the track. We could see who was leading as they disappeared around the bend and we could hear the cheers from people watching, but with the finish line being on the other side of the Paddocks we were in the dark as to who the final winner was.
Before I knew it, notice came over the Marshal’s radio that it was all over and we could clear the track. I must confess, as I heard this I sighed and felt a touch of disappointment wash over me.
My experience as a volunteer at the Shell Eco-marathon has been one I will never forget. From seeing the dedication, determination and innovation of such inspiring young people, to having the opportunity to work alongside the professional, committed Dutch Track Marshal Team, I have learnt a great deal.
The event was absolutely right. The future is ours to make, if we want to.
The Shell Make The Future event, including the Shell Eco-Marathon, saw over 200 teams (all students) from 29 countries take part and over 30,000 visitors pass through its gates.
The overall winning car in the Prototype challenge was built by Microjoule-La Joliverie. It was powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and achieved an efficiency of 2,606.4 km/l (6,130.6 mpg), a new compressed gas record.
That’s the same as driving from London to Milan and back on less than a litre of fuel.
French team Lycee Louis DELAGE’s gasoline-fuelled car covered the longest distance on one litre of fuel equivalent in the UrbanConcept challenge, reaching 445.7 km/l.
Universitas Pendidikan, a team from Indonesia, won the inaugural Shell Eco-marathon Drivers’ World Championship and have won a week’s training with Scuderia Ferrari in Maranello, Italy, at which team members will meet the Formula 1 team and receive coaching on how to improve their technology.
Shell Eco-marathon isn’t just about winning on the track. There are also awards for innovative technology, design and commitment to safety.You can find out more about these Off-track awards at the Shell Eco-marathon website.