The participation at the Shell Eco-marathon in London put an end to a season full of ups and downs. Our equipment was already shipped during the week and because most team members went to England by plane, chances were up to use the time for acclimatization in the city. Relaxed and ready for the challenge, the team met at the track, where the technical inspection was to be passed in order to be allowed on track. We were able to take this first step without major problems thanks the experience from earlier events this season in combination with the reliable design of our vehicle.
During the first test runs, the difficulty and challenge of the track became apparent. Especially a long acclivity and some badly processed surface transitions brought our – for efficiency reasons not spring-loaded – vehicle to its limits. Already during the second test run, we had to change one of our main components due to the unexpected strains. Despite the incident, major damages could be avoided and all affected parts were replaced within two hours. Unfortunately, the streak of bad luck was loyal to us –not regarding the track but regarding the competitors.
Although finishing our first competition run without problems, we had to repeat our second run two times in total. For once, we were pushed into the barriers by another car and the second time, we were blocked from passing the finishing line by a broke down vehicle. Thanks to our solid carbon design, eLi16 survived all those incidents without major damages occurring – only an easily replaceable wheel arch took its toll. During the entire competition, multiple rollovers, crashes and even a burning prototype showed the difficulty of the track. In addition, many vehicles had to be towed away because they were not able to overcome the steep acclivity combined with strong winds. But thanks to the well-trained drivers and track marshals, the race passed without big safety interferences.
Despite all the bad luck, we were one of the few teams that were able to successfully finish all valid competition runs. In the end, our efforts were rewarded with a great third place. At this point it is my turn to thank the entire group, that stuck together during the entire time, always making sure eLi16 is ready for the next run – in order to gain another top placement in the hard-fought battery electric category.
Due to the happenings on track, this result makes us extremely proud and motivates us for the following years. We are already on fire for next season and we have a lot of surprises planned! Stay tuned!