CLEAN AND GREEN FOR 2006 - FIONA LEGGATE RUNS ON RENEWABLE FUEL WITH EEMS SUPPORT - MOVES AFOOT TO ENCOURAGE TEAMS TO RUN BIO-FUELS - FUEL-METERING TRIALLED TO PROVIDE ENERGY EQUIVALENCY FOR MIXED FUEL MOTORSPORT IN THE FUTURE
The Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS) initiative of Motorsport Development UK has renewed support for the number 82 Thurlby Motors Boston Bowl Tech- Speed Astra Coupé, driven by 25 year old Fiona Leggate. The car, which trialled increasing blends of renewable bio-ethanol and petrol in 2005, is this year fuelled with E85, the blend of 15% petrol, 85% bio-ethanol now available in the UK for road vehicles. The Tech-Speed team confirm that the fuel-blend did not compromise power, speed or reliability. This weekend the team has travels to Mondello Park, Ireland for the second race weekend.
Fiona's green Astra clocked Silverstone speed traps fourth fastest in 2005 qualifying and finished the race fifth overall. Fiona was voted 'Rookie of the Year' by the knowledgeable BTCC fans. This year has already seen progress. At the first round at Brands Hatch, Fiona improved by half a second a lap in her first races on the short circuit configuration. "I've made major steps forward with my confidence with the car this weekend," she stated later, "it felt really good to be running this pace. My aim is to stick to the pack at the front of the grid in my first full BTCC season."
The bio-ethanol in E85 blend is an alcohol fuel made from crops such as sugar-beet or wheat and can be made from crop waste, so increasing use of this fuel will help Britain's farmers as well as the environment - both of which are important for 25 year old Fiona, from a Lincolnshire farming family.
Alternative fuel is not the only energy-efficient aspect of the car. The 250 BHP, 138mph Astra also continues to run the fuel metering system developed last year by Ricardo for EEMS, which precisely monitors the engine's fuel consumption.
"This is part of EEMS ongoing studies to find a sustainable approach to regulations and to encourage greater fuel efficiency in motorsport," said Dr Steve Bunkhall, EEMS Project Leader. "Limiting the maximum fuel flow means that teams would have to find the most energy efficient approach to be competitive. 'Energy equivalent flow' will clearly define equivalency issues and open the way for alternative fuels to compete fairly alongside petrol in mainstream UK motorsport."
The same fuel metering technology is being offered free of charge to all BTCC teams to prove its reliability and effectiveness. EEMS' ambition is for the fuel flow limit to be adopted in the future to make energy efficiency key to competitiveness.
There is also the possibility of alternative fuels being provided in the future. Representatives from EEMS are taking soundings from BTCC teams and sponsors about widening the use of environmentally friendly fuels, exploring the feasibility of underwriting the conversion of cars and the provision of fuels such as bio-ethanol and biodiesel. Any proposal will work within TOCA's commitment to Super 2000 Regulations from 2007.
"Environmental pressures are already changing the automotive world. There is an opportunity for UK Motorsport, with its world class expertise and experience, to lead the way to a greener automotive future by showcasing more energy efficient racing that is still exciting to watch and participate in, at the same time reducing the environmental impact of motorsport itself,' said Steve Bunkhall.
Alan Gow, BTCC Series Director, actively encourages the initiative: "The BTCC is an excellent platform to raise public awareness of alternative fuels and how they might find their way into the cars you and I drive on the road."