After some 2500km the rivalry has become desperately intense. All that remains is a run down Highway One to Adelaide and then three hours’ driving through the city and suburbs to determine a winner. Vehicles are divided into classes and they are being judged on various criteria including the most important one of fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre and by what percentage they improve on the manufacturers’ laboratory test figures.
Today’s run from the opal mining town of Coober Pedy to Port Augusta had an allowed time of seven hours and 10 minutes. And again, distance variations between the official road book and the different cars’ odometers caused calculation problems with some crews once again eating into their allowed “late time”. Accumulate 30 minutes of late time and you’re out of the event.
Although they’re competing in different classes the gap between the leaders is close and closing. The Ford Fiesta Econetic diesel has the best economy but is competing in the light car class. Since leaving Darwin its fuel consumption has been 3.10 litres/100km. The three Team MINI Cooper Ds are in the next larger car category, the small car class and at yesterday’s Coober Pedy refill the car driven by ABC commentator Will Hagon and Australian Conservation Foundation advocate Gail Broadbent had used 3.36 litres/100km, shading the 3.37 litres/100km figure of previous team leaders, journalist Bob Jennings and Toni Andreevski. The third MINI Cooper D of Chris Smerdon and Andy Ford has used 3.65.
The tiny Suzuki Alto is the best of the petrol-engined vehicles with 3.96 litres/100km, while the big Skoda Superb diesel-engined luxury sedan is next in line with 4.60litres/100km.
The consumption of the 6.2-litre V8 HSV Maloo ute driven by journalist Joshua Dowling continues to impress although its consumption jumped on the run from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy to 8.10 litres/100km, lifting its average for the trip to 7.59 litres/100km. It is, however, the “dirtiest” car with carbon dioxide emissions almost double those of the leaders.
The driving yesterday was enlivened by the presence of two of the solarpowered cars which left Darwin a day later than the eco Challenge vehicles.
They whispered down the road at around 100km/h, but each vehicle was accompanied by a convoy of up to a dozen support vehicles including semitrailers, with the radio waves full of a mixed bag of languages. The road-train truckies who normally have the radio bands to themselves were confused.
With: BMW Australia