Most of the entrants are ultra-aerodynamic, bizarrely-shaped creations that look like something out of a sci-fi picture. In this year's event, there was an exception, however. Caterham Cars partnered with Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS) and entered a specially-prepared Caterham Seven they called the 2R in the competition.
The 2R was completely production based, and ran on a stock 120-horsepower 1.6L K-Series engine from the company's Roadsport model. The only changes made for the challenge were the fitment of a new aerodynamic body, a lighter seat and narrow-width low-resistance rolling stock. Careful, economical driving techniques would be used by its pilot to squeeze the maximum fuel efficiency out of the engine.
The internal goal the team set for themselves was 100 mpg. The Caterham 2R did better than expected, achieving 131 mpg. Not bad for a lightweight sports car designed to be flung about the track with abandon. Especially considering that this particular Seven is basically a wheel/tire change away from doing so, even in its so-called Eco trim.
(Press release after the jump)
[Source: Caterham Cars]
THE 131 MPG CATERHAM
Caterham is famed for producing some of the fastest cars in the world, but what about one capable of returning 131 miles per gallon?
That's exactly what a modified Caterham Seven achieved at the recent Shell Eco- Marathon at Rockingham.
Customized by carbon fibre specialist Axon Automotive, with the support of Energy-Efficient Motorsport (EEMS), the standard Caterham Seven Roadsport 1.6-litre K Series used enhanced aerodynamics, new lightweight seating, narrow low rolling resistance tyres and economic driving techniques to ensure it maximised every drop of fuel. The sportscar smashed the team's initial 100mpg target.
The Shell Eco-Marathon is an annual competition to determine the car with the greatest fuel economy after 40 minutes driving and seven laps of the track at a minimum of 15mph. Each entry must meet strict safety requirements and drive using as little petrol, LPG, diesel or hydrogen as possible.
Axon Automotive project leader, Dr Steve Cousins comments: "We are showing that careful driving and relatively simple modifications to conventional cars can lead to significant fuel savings. Significantly the Caterham 2R was the only car in the competition that was moulded from a road-legal vehicle."