Josh's Blog: GCC Day Three Update

Published: 27 October 2009
Day Three of the 2009 Global Green Challenge.
Josh's Blog: GCC Day Three Update

Pictured: Day Three of the 2009 Global Green Challenge.

There was a big dust up on the Global Green Challenge yesterday, which completed leg three from Tennant Creek to Alice Springs.

We woke to an eerie light haze from a massive dust storm, and it didn’t lift until well into the afternoon.

This meant that conditions were much cooler (max 32 degrees) as the particles took the sting out of the sun.

As was the case on previous days, the battle up the front was between the HSV Maloo ute and Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo sedan (results postponed, see separate story, click here).

And, as was also the case on the previous days, even though the cars were started at two minute intervals, the Maloo caught the XR6 Turbo within two hours.

This is because both cars have slightly different optimum speeds, in part because the Ford is an auto and the Maloo is a manual, and both their engines are at their most efficient at different engine revs.

However, both cars swapped the lead four times today, as all teams struggled to match their economy from previous days thanks to a gentle uphill climb to Alice Springs from the north, and a strong and gusty headwind all the way.

It was likely the world’s slowest Holden versus Ford battle, as the average speed was about 75km/h.

Inside the HSV Maloo

My turn to drive in the support vehicle today. Well, not my turn as such, I asked if I could be in the Senator so we could drive ahead and get some photos of the Maloo at various spots along the way.

I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be among the support drivers: HSV engineers Leigh Russell and Rob Davis.

They have enjoyed air-conditioned comfort while Gerry Bechet and I in the Maloo sweated it out with the a/c switched off over the past couple of days.

Thankfully, both guys were keen and were about to flip a coin at breakfast to decide who the lucky winner was, when Leigh jumped in and said “I’ll do it”.

It was Leigh’s lucky day, that’s for sure. The temperature had dropped so the going wasn’t as tough as yesterday.

“I don’t know what you blokes are complaining about,” he said with a grin.

It must have been a frustrating day for Leigh, who usually spends his days doing performance testing of HSV vehicles. He’s known by his engineering colleagues as The Stig because he is the only one who can crack a 4.9 second 0 to 100km/h time out of a HSV Clubsport like clockwork.

“It’s a bit different to what I’m used to, but the competitive spirit keeps you going.”

Rob was enjoying himself in the Senator too. “I’ve passed an Australian Rally Champion and a 24 Hour LeMans winner today,” he said, referring to Neal Bates who was in one of the support vehicles in the event, and Vern Schuppan who is driving a diesel Mini. “Actually, I’ve passed a LeMans winner a few times today. I’m feeling pretty good,” he laughed.

Pace notes and other observations

We stopped at Ti Tree for fuel (in the Senator!) and happened across the Tesla roadster electric car being recharged by a diesel generator on the back of its diesel powered eight-tonne flatbed truck.

We bumped into the owner, Simon Hackett, who has been enjoying the event, but not the long days (he has to stop twice for 3.5 hours to recharge). He told us that he towed the Tesla from Adelaide to Darwin on a car trailer behind his diesel-powered Volvo XC90 4WD and it used 12 litres per 100km. With the empty trailer behind the Volvo has been using 18 litres per 100km. “That trailer is like a parachute, it’s a good lesson in aerodynamics,” he said. Anyone want a free tow from Alice Springs to Adelaide today? You might save someone some fuel…

-- Joshua Dowling

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