The most amazing thing is that brightly colored, sparkling single "droplet cars" are not built by auto industry professionals, but by boys and girls - schoolchildren and students. For more than 20 years, Shell has been organizing these youth competitions in Europe, accessible to a wide range of enthusiasts. Judge for yourselves: there is no entry fee at the Eco-Marathon, and the organizers partially bear the costs of moving to the place of the race. Michelin does not stand aside, whose tires are used by all teams: the latest radial tires with a cost price of about 200 euros (which, incidentally, was a record low consumption), French tire manufacturers provide for free.
This year, the Eco-Marathon for the first time takes place not in one, but in three stages. At the first - in the French city of Nogaro - about 200 teams from 18 countries participated. The twenty-five of the best went to Clermont-Ferrand for the second stage, where a new record was set. From there is our photo story.
Competitions were held at the Michelin training ground in the picturesque French province of Auvergne. This is an almost perfect place to set records for profitability. Firstly, the local route, unlike Nogaro, is flat, without a height difference. And secondly, tire manufacturers use it only for rain tests, so there is no rubber roll in corners, to which the tires stick too much, which significantly increases the rolling resistance.
Participants lined up at the start. The race conditions are simple: drive 10 laps (a little more than 20 km) with an average speed of at least 30 km / h (after the estimated time has passed, the finish is closed). But not only the most economical car wins: points are awarded both in places at the finish line and in fuel consumption, and then they are added up. Mathematicians have to break their brains: how to find a balance between speed and profitability?
Since the engine on the highway is started only occasionally, and the supply of "extraneous energy" is prohibited during the race, it is not cooled, as in ordinary cars, but, on the contrary, is wrapped up warmer. In this team with a budget of only about 400 euros per year, they use an ordinary wool blanket. Despite the “prestigious” interior of the car, the team made it to the second stage with good results.
In a "gas tank" (20 - 50 ml measuring funnel) a pressure of about 3 bar is created - this is necessary for normal injection operation (you will not find carburetor cars here), and there is less evaporation loss. The receiver is … a plastic bottle - before the race it is pumped with air. Many panels are made of carbon fiber - the corrugated structure of the sheets gives them rigidity. Rims are also made of the same material. The first two races took place on traditional diagonal tires. Their rolling resistance is 2 kg per ton of gross vehicle weight. For comparison: the resistance of a passenger radial tire is several times higher - 8-12 kg / t. Michelin radial tires have completely fantastic characteristics: at an internal pressure of 6 bar, their rolling resistance is only 1 kg / t - like a railway wheel rolling on rails. This is close to the limiting value: here, the main role is already played by the deformation not of the tire, but of the roadway. But records are a delicate matter: worn tires sometimes exploded during training.
The minimum weight of the pilot is 45 kg, so usually fragile girls are behind the wheel. The minimum weight of the car itself is not limited.
The winner in the overall standings is team number 2 from the University. Fields Sabatier (Toulouse). Their car runs on gasoline. For other types of fuel, consumption is calculated by specific calorific value.
Superiority in the class of urban prototypes (Urban Concept) was won by a team from Denmark. These cars are taller and much heavier, because the regulations include a lot of "weighty" points - in particular, disc brakes on all wheels.