The day I drove on a F1 circuit

If you remember, I took part in the Shell FuelSave 1 Litre Singapore challenge in October last year and came in first. And because of that, Shell invited me to Malaysia to take part in the Shell FuelSave 1 Litre Asia Challenge. I’m supposed to represent Singapore together with Angela. That’s quite a big burden for me to shoulder. I hope I don’t lose too badly.

The challenge took place at Sepang International Circuit! Yes, that’s the F1 circuit in Malaysia! Can you imagine how excited I was when I found out that I’m going to drive on an actual F1 Circuit? We are not talking about Marina Bay Street Circuit here. But of course we didn’t use a F1 car. It is impossible to be fuel efficient on those machine. Instead, we use an ordinary car you see along the road. An automatic Honda Civic to be exact.

There were some changes to the rules this time round to make it more realistic. During the last challenge, we were allowed to turn off the aircon and wind up the window (yes, winding up the window is more fuel efficient than winding down). But that isn’t very realistic if you think about it. How many people drive without aircon in such climate? So this time round, the rules is that we must keep the aircon turned on. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to achieve my previous record of 17.792 km since aircon is one of the major “fuel drinker” in the car.

Before our challenge, we had a crash course on fuel efficiency by Helen and John Taylor from Fuel Academy. Helen and John are the World Record holder for fuel efficiency. They drove 29,717 kilometres, across 25 countries in 78 days using just 24 tanks of fuel. That’s an average of 22.2 kilometres per litre! With their crash course, we are better prepared for the challenge.

We use the south track (Turn 8 to 14) for the challenge as the north track was being used for the Shell Eco-Marathon. The biggest challenge on the track is at turn 9 where there is a sharp turn followed by a up slope. It’s alright if you are racing for speed, but if you aiming for fuel efficiency, then this turn is your greatest enemy. I think I lost the most fuel there. There were also some obstacles along the way but they didn’t create much trouble for me.

And also, to make it more challenging, we are supposed to stop at 2 check point, step out of the car and answer some questions. If you got the questions right, you move on. If you got it wrong, then you will be penalized by having some heavy luggage on your car or forced to wind down your window. And perhaps it is because of the safety helmet that we were wearing, I find myself having problems answering the questions. You know lah, it’s the typical army thing when you find it difficult to think when you wear your helmet. Don’t ask me why we wearing helmet since we most likely won’t be going anywhere above 70km/hr. It’s track regulations.

In the end, I got 1 question wrong. For the penalty, I need to wind down my windows and have a basket of durians at my back seat. And it’s not just normal durians. I suspect it’s STALE DURIANS! If you know me well, you will know that I hate durians. But I doubt that small basket of durians have any effect on the results. The killer is the windows. Winding down windows is bad for fuel efficiency because of wind drag. You won’t see any difference when you are traveling slowly. But I start to see the difference when I approach 50km/h. Find myself having to step on the accelerator harder to maintain 50 km/h. This is not good for fuel efficiency. So remember, if you want to save fuel, keep your window closed.

I knew I didn’t do well for the challenge the moment I step out of the car. Did a few mistakes here and there which causes me to waste more fuel than I’m supposed to. In the end, I came in 5th for the Shell FuelSave 1 Litre Asia Challenge. Drove 12.656km on 1L petrol. Compared to my previous attempt of 17.792 km back in Singapore, this is a lot worst. But bear in mind that this time round, the aircon is switched on and we are driving on more difficult course. In fact, I think this result here is more realistic and achievable on public road during normal days.

The winner of the Shell FuelSave 1 Litre Asia Challenge is Alicia Ann Laisuthruklai from Bangkok, Thailand with an impressive result of 15.648km on 1L petrol. Power.

Although I didn’t win, I did have lots of fun. Isn’t having fun more important than winning? How often do you get to drive on a F1 circuit? And I think end of the day, we all win some knowledge here and there. Hopefully we can get to apply these fuel efficiency knowledge when driving. And maybe help spread the message too.

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