Wednesday, May 19, 2010


AYER KEROH, 16 May 2010: The Nissan Lightfoot Quest is organized by Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) as part of its customer loyal programme to promote fuel efficiency as a selling point for Nissan vehicles. When ETCM first organized this event in 2008, it created a quite a storm when the winner (my senpai) driving a Grand Livina 1.8 Auto, chalked a very impressive mileage of 56.6 km/litre of fuel for the 180.5 km journey from Holiday Inn Glenmarie to Gopeng.


This figure, though extraordinary in the public's eyes, is not achieved in what I would term as normal driving conditions. When a monetary reward is offered, you can be sure that teams will apply extraordinary measures, though within the rules, to outdo the competition.

Like most, I was a disbeliever. So out of curiosity, I decided to join the bandwagon and participate in this year's event (with my colleague, Kanes). I had to find out what these extraordinary measures were. Heck the experience might even help me save a couple of hundred ringgit a month in fuel.

So, that morning 39 teams (including 9 media teams) gathered at Holiday Inn Glenmarie, the flag off point for the 147 km drive to Ayer Keroh. We were amongst a handful of representatives from the hunt community. Before flag off, the participants were treated to a hearty breakfast. Though none of us really pigged out for fear of adding extra load. And by 8.30am, teams could be seen pushing their cars to the starting line (every little drop counts!). I don't think any team made it to the top of the steep slope. Most only made it to the foot. We made it to half-way before calling it quits.

The rules of the game? Teams were were given 3 hours to complete the journey, following a prescribed route (mainly highways) or risk disqualification. At the end of the drive, event marshalls would then refuel the vehicles under the watchful eyes of representatives from the National Union of Journalists (to ensure transparency) to determine the consumption.

The event actually began the day before. Preparing the car well was essential (Half the battle would have been won). One of the key measures was to ensure that the fuel tank was filled to the brim. Unknown to many, air pockets exist inside the tank. Jacking the car, helps to bleed out these air pockets. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my tank could accept another 4 bottles (1.5 Litre Coke bottles) of fuel, although we had just topped up at a gas station close by. Another measure was to inflate the tyres close to the maximum allowable to reduce drag. It helps also to remove all non-essential load from the car. All these activities had to be completed right before the fuel entry points were sealed and parc ferme enforced.

When we were set loose at 9.15am that morning, I took over the wheel. We did what most teams would do - folded the side mirrors to reduce drag and shut down the air-conditioner without rolling down the windows. Other little tricks that I tried out on the road include coasting on neutral on down slopes, keeping to a consistent speed below 90km/h and tail-gating large vehicles to reduce aerodynamic drag.

The drive was definitely not a pleasant experience. The car felt like an oven. We were sweating profusely from the beginning and after a short distance the shoes turned into a mini swimming pool - the V-Kool did nothing to filter the morning heat. One hour into the journey, the lips started to swell and half hour before the end we became slightly disoriented. In the end, we finished the quest in 2 hours and 20 minutes, which felt like an eternity though well within the 3 hours allocated. We could not have finished any sooner, for another minute in the car and I would definitely have collapsed!

The marshall took his time to refill my tank - filling and letting the fuel settle before filling again. In the end the fuel pump meter read 1.73 litres (or RM3.11) which equated to a staggering 84.9 km/litre (with room for improvement since we made some mistakes along the journey). Though, it fell short of winning the quest - the winner had chalked almost double my mileage with an extraordinary 165.8 km/litre. We finished 3rd in our category and 5th overall. And we were one of eight teams that successfully smashed my senpai's record set in 2008.

Would I do it again? Nope, certainly not for three grand. But I did walk away with the following fuel efficient tips that can be applied to normal driving:

1. Avoid jack-rabbit starts: the proper way is to accelerate slowly and smoothly, then get into high gear as quickly as possible.
2. Avoid hard braking.
3. Service your vehicle regularly: Dirty air filters can cause your engine to run at less than peak efficiency.
4. Make sure the tires are properly inflated to prevent increased rolling resistance.
5. Avoid idling - turn of the engine when in park.
6. Park in shaded areas to reduce fuel evaporation.

Nissan Lighfoot Quest 2010 Results

Cateogry: Sylphy 2.0 litre (Auto)
1. Kenneth Chiew - 165.8 km/litre
2. Alvin Phua - 109.1 km/litre
3. Chong Voon Kiat - 84.9 km/litre
Category: 1.8 litre (Auto)
1. Razman Omar – 35.07 km/litre
2. Azman Omar – 35.06 km/litre
3. Muhammad Kamal Abdul Rahman – 34.95 km/litre

Category: 1.6 litre (Auto)
1. Loo Hann Juan – 112.4 km/litre
2. Syariful Mazlan – 80.3 km/litre
3. Julian Pang – 76.3 km/litre

Category: 1.6 litre (Manual)
1. Roslan Abdul Rashid – 101.2 km/litre
2. Cheong Huey Chieat – 65.3 km/litre
3. Nurismaila – 46.5 km/litre


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

A quick google revealed that both Kenneth Chiew and Julian Pang are no ordinary Joes. Both are Pro Grass racers.

Wonder what are they doing in an event designed for ordinary folks?

Cornelius said...

Not my kind of game... hehehe. But just curious, the marshals, are they always watching the teams? Would there be any hope, say to hire a tow truck for some distance?

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Besides time, mileage is also recorded at the end of the journey to ensure it is within the allowable limits.

Unless the odometer of the vehicle increments while being towed, this extraordinary measure will stick out!

Cornelius said...

Hahaha!... Well, afterall the heading is "Extraordinary Measures"!

But I think it is possible to let the engine run, but don't step on the accelerator. Then get a tow truck to pull most of the distance. I think the mileage will be still be shown on the odo meter. And after allowing for the price of the tow truck, I'm sure there is still something left from the RM3,000.