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Eco-Civic tilting at 1.4/100km

2011-11-08 07:34

DAY AT THE BEACH: The super-frugal Honda Civic Hybrid and its crew on Brighton promenade.

LONDON, England - The unique Oaktec Honda Insight hybrid rally car that caused a storm when it was considered too fast to compete in its rally championship has won a race of a different kind.

The controversial eco-car took on the world’s leading green automakers, specialist companies and celebrity drivers in the weekend's RAC Future Car Challenge, an energy-efficiency competition in which the competitors were measured on the amount of energy they used to complete a timed course from Brighton and London.

it was a sidebar to the annual London-Brighton veteran car run designed to sow terror in the hearts of the Battery-Car Brigade.


The Oaktec car, developed by an innovation company based in Lancashire, north-west England, took on all-comers in the hybrid electric vehicle class to record 93.8 miles per gallon - 3.01 litres/100km in South African terms - on its way to a clear victory.

A British website, Green-Car-Guide, has supported the Oaktec hybrid rally car project since its inception in 2006 and founding editor Paul Clarke, who also took part in the RAC Future Car Challenge in an electric BMW ActiveE, said: "I’m delighted that a car that wins rallies can also win an economy competition. It shows that efficiency can mean speed as well as fuel economy."

The Challenge began early on Saturday morning in Brighton, a holiday town on England's Channel coast, and ran a tortuous route into central London, finishing with a parade and display on Regent Street in the City, which was closed for the event. It attracted an estimated quarter-million spectators.

GREEN CAR HAVING FUN: Going economical doesn't have to be boring, as the Oaktec Civic hybrid shows with a touch of rally action.

The Oaktec team of development engineers, Paul Andrews and Jeremy Dale, was awarded a trophy at a dinner in front of an audience of competitors and celebrities in the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall - yet they nearly didn’t make the start line.


There ws a series of pre-event problems with the car’s development battery system; Oaktec believes that if the batteries had been working as normal they would have scored an even better economy result - certainly beyond 100mpg (2.82 litres/100km).

The Insight hit the headlines earlier in 2011 when it was asked to step down from the Formula 1000 Stage Rally championship after dominating the first three events of the series.

Oaktec partner and rally co-driver Bill Meeson explained,: "The Insight had proved to be so quick in the rallies that we had some doubters as to its genuine low-carbon capabilities. We entered this weekend's event confident that we could score a good result yet a clear win against such strong competition was tremendously satisfying.

"Without the problems we should have broken the magic 10 mpg barrier but such issues are expected when exploring the boundaries of technology."


Andrews added: "We hope this success will make the industry stand up and take more notice of the capability of small research and development companies such as Oaktec. The key to this is that it is exactly the same energy recovery technology that enables us to win both rallies and fuel economy competitions.

"I think there was a danger of us being seen just as a novelty green motorsport team but we are very serious about development of new relevant technologies that can create jobs and revenue for UK business and reduce vehicle ownership costs and CO2 emissions."

In fact, Oaktec believes it can develop a vehicle to target 200mpg - 1.4 litres/100km - for the 2012 RAC Future Car Challenge.

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