Honda drivers win MPG Marathon title in photo finish

Honda engineers Fergal McGrath and James Warren, driving a Honda Civic Tourer, have won this year’s MPG Marathon eco-driving challenge in a nail-biting finish with last year’s champions, Nick Chapman and Rosemary Homer.

Over the two days of the event, which was again sponsored by ALD Automotive and TRACKER, the Honda pair expertly guided a Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC around the specially designated 330-mile route, recording an outstanding 97.92mpg.

However, it was a very close run thing following a determined and sustained challenge from reigning champions, Chapman and Homer, both employees of Leicestershire County Council, who, until last year’s event, had never even met before.

Again driving a 1.6 litre TDCi Ford Fiesta Titanium ECOnetic, the Leicester pair achieved an average of 97.08mpg, just fractions of a mile per gallon behind the eventual winners.

“Having won last year’s event at their first attempt, Nick and Rosemary so nearly became only our second pair of drivers to win the event for two years in a row,” said event organiser and Fleet World managing editor, Ross Durkin.

“Commiserations to them, but all credit to Fergal and James. Their performance in recording an average of 97.92mpg over the two days was quite exceptional given the challenging driving conditions that all the contestants faced.

“It is testimony to their expert eco-driving skills that they have emerged triumphant against a very strong field of competitors, including nine former champions, and shows what can be achieved with the current generation of eco-friendly models available on the market today.”

In third place overall were John Kendall and Paul Nieuwenhuis, who achieved a very creditable 95.00mpg in Citroen’s new C4 Cactus crossover. The pair drove the low-emission BlueHdi 100 Feel model which emits just 82g/km of CO2.

Alongside the competition for the best outright MPG, the Marathon also challenged drivers to improve on the manufacturers’ official fuel consumption figures for their vehicle.

And claiming first place in this category were Marathon new-comers and current Ford motor racing stars, Louise Richardson, and her co-driver, Harrison Scott.

Louise 21, star of the family-run Richardson Racing team, is the first female racer of an EcoBoost Formula Ford car, while 18-year old Falcon Motorsport driver Harrison is current leader of the 2014 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship.

The pair were driving a powerful new Ford Fiesta ST-3 1.6 litre 182ps EcoBoost model with an official combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg. But the racing stars blew that figure completely out of the water, achieving an astonishing 75.77mpg, over 58% better than the official figures.

“It was an outstanding achievement from Louise and Harrison in their first MPG Marathon and showed what can be done in terms of driving frugally, even in today’s modern, high-powered super-minis,” said Ross Durkin, who was presiding over the 14th MPG Marathon to date.

“They had to curb their natural racing instincts in trying to use as little fuel as possible over the two-day event and did so brilliantly,” he said.

In second place in the percentage improvement category was the pair of Richard Aucock and Katie Beck. Driving an all-wheel drive Subaru BRZ Sports Coupe 2.0i SE Lux with a combined fuel consumption of 36.20mpg, their performance of 55.42mpg was 53% better than the official figures.

Claiming third spot in this category were former rally star, Andy Dawson, and long time co-driver and motorsports journalist, Andrew Marriott, the 2012 MPG Marathon champions.

Behind the wheel of a new high-powered Ford Focus ST-3 2.0T 250PS with an official fuel consumption figure of 39.20mpg, the highly-experienced duo achieved 56.78mpg, some 44.84% better than the manufacturer’s own figures.

Other notable achievements this year included that from British Touring Car Championship stars, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, both members of the 2014 Honda Yuasa Racing Team, who were driving a Honda Civic 1.6 litre diesel Tourer.

Taking part in their first-ever MPG Marathon, their performance of 80.23mpg saw them finish in ninth place in the field of 26 teams of competitors.

In the light commercial vehicle category, there was a quite brilliant performance from Dan Gilkes, editor of Van Fleet World, and co-driver, Ray Penford.

Behind the wheel of Renault’s all-new Trafic SL27 Energy dCi 120 Business, the pair achieved 55.55mpg, the best overall mpg and also the best percentage improvement, being 16% better than the manufacturer’s official figures of 47.90mpg.

Day one saw the contestants start from the luxurious Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel, at South Cerney near Cirencester, and head for the Brecon Beacons, with a lunch stop in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, and an afternoon tea stop in Worcester.

On day two, they again set off from South Cerney, heading for Andover in Hampshire for a coffee stop and a lunch stop at the stately Bailbrook House Hotel in Bath.

In all, the course comprised a combined total of approximately 330 miles, although contestants were free to plan their own routes, provided they included a number of pre-agreed, fixed points, which made keen navigational skills essential.

All participating vehicles were again fitted with TRACKER tracking equipment so that event organisers knew exactly where each car was and how far it had travelled.

“Congratulations to all the contestants in this year’s MPG Marathon. There were some outstanding team and individual performances, some near misses and some great results.

“Above all else, this year’s event showed conclusively that the current generation of modern cars and vans are more fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly than ever before, and are an outstanding testimony to the achievements of all the participating motor manufacturers,” concluded Ross Durkin.

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