It’s amazing how the concerns about environment and fuel saving have affected the whole industry, even motorsport! These days in car racing the winner no longer is the fastest, but the most frugal! At least that was the base for Ford’s Econo Check ‘One Gallon Challenge’ at Brands Hatch race circuit, in which each car had just a single gallon of fuel to start with! And the winner managed 82 miles – 67 laps on that gallon, astonishing performance, sorry economy!
Andy Barratt, Ford customer service director, said: “With fuel prices already high and getting higher, fuel economy is more important than ever for customers. By combining smarter driving with the latest fuel efficient vehicles, our ‘One Gallon Challenge’ has shown just how far you can make your fuel go, which is key to keeping down your motoring costs. As most customers don’t have a race circuit to practice on, we’ve developed Ford Econo Check to help them drive within their budget.”
Five teams took part in the challenge, which included racing drivers Tom Chilton, Tom Onslow-Cole, Shane Lynch, Ben Collins (aka the former Stig) and Josh Hill, plus representatives from driving instructors, AA DriveTech. Special guest driver and land speed record holder, Wing Commander Andy Green, swapped his role as the fastest man on four wheels, on earth, to drive at a more economical pace.
The group showed how drivers can beat fuel price rises by going further on a single gallon. Each team was given a 1.4-litre Ford Fiesta Titanium filled with just one gallon of petrol, before lining up on the grid for an endurance race with a difference. The highly fuel-efficient Ford Fiesta enabled all teams to drive for over two hours, with the last car finishing after 2 hours, 27 minutes and 51 seconds. Every team covered over 65 miles, with the winners – led by BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) ace Tom Chilton – clocking up 82 miles, a 65 per cent improvement over their car’s official EC combined fuel consumption of 49.6mpg. Average fuel consumption across all teams was recorded by organisers as 74.3mpg – a 50 per cent improvement on official consumption figures.
The challenge coincided with this month’s latest fuel duty rise, which has pushed total fuel duty to 58.19 pence per litre. The planned VAT rise to 20 per cent from January will increase the price of fuel still further.