The Global Green Challenge has reached Alice Springs, the psychological half-way point in the 3000km journey from Darwin to Adelaide, and the nerves are starting to show.
People are getting snappy, jumping on the poor bloke whose job it is to try to refuel the cars accurately and in a short space of time. Everyone is prepared to offer advice on how their cars should be filled. And there has been dissent over how the distance covered by the cars should be calculated.
It turns out that there are significant differences in various cars’ odometers which effects their apparent fuel consumption. So after a meeting of organisers and team managers last night the results are being recalculated with the distance covered being that listed in the road book. So if you’ve overshot a corner or covered more distance than you should have, bad luck.
Even the drivers of the Tesla electric car have copped a serve. Although their intent is to demonstrate the ability of a production electric vehicle to make the journey, they’ve had a heap of criticism because there is a truck carrying a generator which is used to charge the car’s batteries. And the truck will use about 600 litres of fuel from Darwin to Adelaide – plus the fuel that is used to run the generator.
The Holden Special Vehicles 6-litre Maloo ute looks like winning the award for the best percentage fuel consumption improvement over the factory laboratory figure. But the snipers say yes, but on the carbon emissions count, it’s also the dirtiest car in the competition.
And there have been criticisms of driving, team tactics, the behaviour of supporting vehicles and probably the content of sandwiches at the roadhouses. Somebody made the mistake of suggesting it’s only a sport…
Yesterday’s run was a tough one; although a couple of hours shorter than Sunday’s drive and despite the temperature being some 10C cooler (at around 31C) the day started grimly with a dirty, smoky, hazy sky (the result of dust and fires, apparently). The wind strengthened and hit the cars on their noses. Economy suffered.
As a result of the organisers’ recalibrating the results, official figures weren’t available last night so Team MINI only has its own figures to go on. Chris Smerdon and Andy Ford took the wooden spoon with 18.88 litres used; Vern Schuppan and Jaedene Hudson used 18.34 litres and Bob Jennings and Toni Andreevski got by on 18.02 litres.
One positive result of last night’s team managers’ meeting is that today there will be a compulsory 15-minute stop about half way so that no-one will be tempted to drive the whole nine hours without a break.
Tonight we’ll be underground at the opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Just don’t let the competitors near the explosives…
With: BMW Australia