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Making a Stop Before Eco-marathon

Before competing at Shell Eco-marathon 2013 in Rotterdam, the Polyjoule team decided to go to the Educ Eco in Colomiers (France). Here is our story day by day. (See also: “Team Polyjoule 2013: New Car, New Category.”)

Day 1

The whole team arrived at Colomiers in the south of France on May 8 for the Educ Eco Challenge. The goal of the team for this race is to drive our new urban concept car CityJoule for the first time, and to be sure that everything in the car is ok. We firstly decided to prepare the paddocks and the car to have a free trial on the track on Thursday. We had to prepare technically the last details of the vehicle, the electronic cards, and the fuel cells to be certain we were ready for the next day. This trial will be the first race for CityJoule, and we are really excited to know if everything is well.

The end of the day came later: a small number of details took a large amount of time for the technical staff.

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Day 2

We woke up at the same time as the sun, everybody keen to be able to see the technical tests of CityJoule in the morning before the afternoon race. And it was official: the car was ready to race!!!

The first tests on the track were really emotional. It was amazing to see some teammates having tears in their eyes, everybody was so happy to see the vehicle driving along the track.

Each of us had in mind the people who worked on the project before us: This the first final test of the CityJoule project. The others will be the challenges’ results as we gauged whether we could meet our predictions regarding the energy consumption. Even if we had a little problem which pushed us to stop the test, we were really proud of all the work and all the team.

The rest of the day was dedicated to preparing the vehicle as best we could to be ready to race on Friday morning.

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Day 3

On Friday, the first day of CityJoule’s official debut, we did six laps before having a technical problem with a wheel. But it was nothing serious enough to prevent our afternoon race. We were really proud to know for certain that CityJoule was able to race and to have the energy consumption we wanted. Jéromine, the driver, says also that the vehicle’s behavior is really good and that it is a real pleasure to drive it.

The second official try will be on this afternoon.

On our second trial in the afternoon, we encountered a second problem, but this time it was a problem of strategy: a mistake during the first lap forced us to stop the race. We immediately decided to attempt another trial during the short time we had left.

All the team was under pressure, we knew that it was one of the last attempts we had at Educ Eco Challenge, and we wanted to perform well before leaving the next day. The laps felt like they lasted hours and hours, and everybody wanted to know if we would be able to finish without a problem. The whole team was shouting every time the vehicle went ahead. The final lap, the last straight line, the finish line: Yeah, we did it !

The results came 20 minutes later: 156 km/kWh, or 1,402 km, with the energetic equivalent of a gasoline liter (3,298 mpg). Put simply, a world record!!!!

It was amazing to see the whole team really happy, shouting and running everywhere !

Having already performed well, we just wanted to be ready for the next day and the last race of the week at Educ Eco Challenge.

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Day 4

We decided to drive the vehicle with our second driver, the one who will drive at Rotterdam. The car is ready to perform, we know it; we just want the driver to practice, and we want to learn more about the car’s behavior when the weight of the driver is higher.

We were really pressure-free, as we had a world record under our belt. After five laps, the strategy team decided to attempt to beat the last day’s record. We adapted the race strategy to try a new performance. After 13 laps, everybody wanted to know about the number—the result. The answer: We beat the record by 28 km, reaching 1,430 km with the energetic equivalent of one gasoline liter (3,364 mpg), the new world record in two days.

Having reached the end of the Challenge, it was really interesting for everyone to know more about the car, the other teams, and the competition. We just want to thank the Educ Eco organization. It was really good to come to Colomiers to drive our new vehicle.

Every teammate now needs to have a rest for Eco-marathon in Rotterdam.

See you at Rotterdam !

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