Most teams competing in the Shell Eco-marathon encounter some sort of road block that must be conquered to ultimately be successful come race day. Commonly, these challenges are eco-vehicle focused - diverse technical and design challenges and changes. The University of Dalhousie, however, was faced with a different set of obstacles all together.
Entering his third year on the team, Julien Lavoie, Dalhousie Supermileage Team Captain, was one of the few to return as team members from previous years had graduated - including the team’s 2014 captain and driver.
“After doing some recruiting, our small team proceeded with a smaller scope than years before,” began Lavoie. “All was going smoothly until January, when the exam schedule came out. It turns out that the competition this year is at a very bad time for my team. Classes do not end until that Friday, and even worse, every member of my team has an exam the following Monday. I made it clear that school comes first, which unfortunately resulted in losing out on some teammates and our new driver.”
“We began desperately looking for a driver small enough to fit in our car, and who was also willing to spend the weekend before an exam travelling and competing. Things looked bleak, but the day before I was going to call it and cancel the trip, we found two drivers that were very eager, thus saving the team and allowing us to move forward.”
With what seemed like a happy ending to a troublesome problem, today, with the competition a week away, Lavoie says that their team is still not in the clear.
In the past, the Dalhousie Supermileage Team has had access to several locations where they could freely test the car without issue. This year, however, all these locations are still covered in snow.
“As our two drivers are new, we are hoping to get as much driving in as possible, so we are again in a desperate search, but this time for a place to test,” says Lavoie. “As I am sure most have heard, the Maritimes got hammered this winter with huge amounts of snow, cancelling many meetings and delaying shipments of parts.”
As this undeterred team prepares for race day, they drive around the city looking to see if they can find an empty, snow-free parking lot, with hopes of getting some testing in prior to race day.
Through having built an eco-vehicle, and re-built their team, Dalhousie Supermileage is not going to let the obstacles that they have encountered deter them. They remain hopeful that they will return to Halifax with the 2015 Shell Eco-marathon championship title -- even with new drivers and minimal test runs.
Students are headed to Detroit, Michigan – the Motor City – to compete April 10-12, 2015. To be a part of the action, visit the Shell Eco-marathon Americas Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages. If you join the eco-conversation, be sure to tag #SEM2015.