The inaugural running of the Drivers' World Championship (DWC) in London was a real crowd pleaser. For the first time, 8 cars outfitted with real time fuel monitors and GPS systems were set loose on the 1.4 mile Eco-marathon track to race head-to-head.
But it was not just a race of speed, it was also a race of consistency. Two urban concept vehicles from each fuel group; Battery electric, internal combustion and hydrogen fuel cell, plus the next two top finishers from across all of the groups were selected to compete for a very nice prize*.
There were dozens of teams fighting for each slot on the starting grid. Even the invited teams from Asia and the Americas had to finish two qualifying runs on the London track to establish their energy needs. These values were then used as their allowable energy to complete the 3 lap DWC race. So, to qualify you had to run really lean and achieve a high miles per gallon score. Then you were only given that amount of fuel to complete the entire race. Consistent driving was the key. You really had to know your car's fuel demands and not fall to the temptation to "race" ahead of another car when your vehicle needed to stay within its prime operating speed.
The crowd was fully aware of each cars relative position on the track and the percentage count down until they ran out of fuel. A large display monitor at the finish line reported the cars' parameters in real time. The groans were audible when a car fell into the "red" indicating that they were using fuel faster than their position would suggest. The percentage count down moved quickly and you could almost feel the car's acceleration as the fuel total moved in the opposite direction. The Course was fully covered with cameras to show the cars jockeying for position and we were blessed with a profession track announcer who fed us the play-by-play to help sort out which cars were involved in any passing or racing challenges. It was a real cliff hanger when Bumi Siliwangi consumed the last of its battery power and was shut off and needed to coast across the finish line with 0.0% remaining fuel. Their driver really knew his car's capabilities.
The 2016 Podium
First place: Team Bumi Siliwangi, Indonesia (Battery electric)
Second place: Team ISEN Toulon/SCS, France (Battery electric)Third place: Knights 3 from Alden-Conger High School, USA (diesel internal combustion) [Being monitored by a Max Model P001 meter]
*Please visit the Eco-marathon site to learn more about the event and teams