Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Shell Eco-Marathon : Driving an Awesome Prototype

What happen when the Sun, Moon and all the stars are all aligned (or when members of the media pass the opportunity)??? You get a once in a lifetime blue moon moment to be in the Shell EcoMarathon Prototype vehicle and take if for a spin around the Sepang International Circuit!!!
The Shell Prototype!
That was what happened to me today. Suited in the Nomex, wearing a ballerina shoe (to fit into the tight feet spaces), pulled up the leather gloves, covered the hair (or for me, lack of), and helmet - the one lap of 2.67km remains an unknown for me.
Press this, not that
A full 5-mins briefing by Ian from Technical - including knowing where is the engine start switch, the emergency kill switch, throttle control and the speed control device (brakes!), all the bits and pieces of emergency response - and the all important “toot the horn three times to overtake” (vision of speed flashed through my mind), I was all ready to go.
Sub 71kg, 173cm, in a tight space
“Remember to go faster on the incline at the first left bend or you will stall”, Ian’s word of wisdom echoed between my ears. I know there will not be something more embarrassing that to have the all sleek Prototype rolling back down the small hill and me walking back in “walk of shame”. 

“I will leave the walkie-talkie here with you so I can give you instructions”, Ian said as the carbon fibre enclosure closed over me. It was then I realised just how tight, warm and limited spaces I had inside. There was no chance of selfie (no IG/FB/Twitter upload? Where can!)

Not if you are claustrophobic
“Start Your Engine”, I heard it through the walkie-talkie. The 125cc internal combustion engine of the Prototype that runs on Shell V-Power rumbles lowly right behind my head, sending vibration through the helmet and the green flags was waved! Off we go!

Controlling the Prototype was easy. It take corners like being stuck on a rail. Point the 12inches handle that doubles up as throttle, brakes, horns, and emergency stop button, and it goes with a lot of feedback from the simple rack-pinion system. Motörhead will says “got road feel lah”. 

Not too bad of a line!
As the Prototype was made with fuel efficiency in mind, the power generated was sufficient to get you across the racing line, up the small elevation (+13m) and it was cruising downhill all the way to the finish line. 

It was a shame I was only allowed a lap, just as I was getting ready to improve on the second lap... but alas, this once in the blue moon experience will come again, when the Sun, Moon and all the stars aligned (and the media declined the opportunity) to do this again in the next Make The Future event!

2.67km of fun!
“How was it?” Ian asked as I twisted the release buckle on the 5-point harness.

“Nothing short of awesome!”, I replied as I continue to count how lucky I was today! 

Thank you Shell EcoMarathon 

The aim was to go as slow, as efficient, as "off the throttle" as possible. Not too bad for a sub5:00 pace