Honda BTCC drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden have confirmed that they will take part in this year's MPG Marathon, a race to get the best fuel economy from a standard road car.
They will be behind the wheel of a Honda Civic 1.6 litre diesel Tourer, a far cry from the super-charged racing version they are used to. Both will have to rein in their natural tendencies as they attempt to win the most coveted eco-driving title in the country in this year’s event, on Wednesday, October 8 and Thursday, October 9.
Among the teams competing against the Honda duo are two drivers from the BTCC-supporting MSA British Formula Ford championship, Harrison Scott and Louise Richardson.
Both teams will be hoping that they can wrest the prestigious title away from the reigning MPG Marathon champions, Nick Chapman and Rosemary Homer from Leicestershire County Council, who have confirmed they are to defend the crown they won in last year’s event.
Chapman and Homer, who achieved an average of 88.69mpg last year, drove a Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 1.6 diesel-engined Titanium model, and out-performed the field of 23 other vehicles with a dazzling array of lean-driving skills.
They will now be trying to retain their hard-won title – a feat which has only been achieved once before.
Event organiser, Ross Durkin, said: “We are delighted to see such an array of motor racing stars at this year’s MPG Marathon, and it will be fascinating to see if these ultra-quick racing drivers can curb their natural instincts in trying to use as little fuel as possible over the two-day event.
“Eco-driving and lean driving techniques have been shown to cut fuel costs by up to 10% and generate six-figure savings on a fleet of several hundred cars. It will be interesting to see if our racing stars can apply the same techniques over the duration of this year’s event,” he said.
This year’s 360-mile route begins at Cirencester and takes in the Brecon Beacons in Wales plus a number of points in between, but contestants are allowed to plan their own routes, provided they include a number of pre-agreed, fixed points, which make keen navigational skills vital.
For the first time this year, electric and hybrid vehicles are being included in three new classes: for pure electric vehicles, for range extenders and for plug-in hybrids.
They will be joining the more familiar diesel and petrol engined cars and vans that traditionally take part in the event.
This year’s course will again have a minimum, straight-line distance of around 360 miles in total, and all cars will again be fitted with Tracker tracking equipment so that organisers will know exactly where each car has been and how far it has travelled.