There are no fewer than nine previous MPG Marathon champions participating in this year’s ALD Automotive/Fleet World MPG Marathon this week through thewesterngroup area.
They are up against some of the finest drivers around in the current and former racing drivers who are also competing for this year’s title of ‘eco-driving champions’.
The previous champions, including reigning MPG Marathon title-holders, Nick Chapman and Rosemary Homer from Leicestershire County Council, have all shown their ability to drive the latest cars and vans in the most environmentally-friendly and cost-conscious manner.
The big unknown in this year’s prestigious lean-driving challenge is whether the motor racing stars are capable of curbing their normal aggressive driving styles and putting in competitive eco-driving performances.
“It promises to be an absorbing contest this year and it will be fascinating to see how the two driving styles compete against each other,” said event organizer and WGMW treasurer, Ross Durkin.
“Can the stars of the track show they can also be eco-driving experts and compete with our former champions? We are really looking forward to finding out the answer to that when this year’s MPG Marathon kicks off in just a few day’s time on October 8/9,” he added.
The racing stars taking part in this year’s event include three-time British Touring Car Champion, Matt Neal, a member of the 2014 Honda Yuasa Racing Team.
Matt will be competing in a Honda Civic 1.6 litre diesel Tourer with team-mate and 2012 BTCC champion, Gordon Shedden.
Joining them on the starting grid are Ford racing driver, Louise Richardson, from the family-run Richardson Racing team, who will be taking part for the first time with co-driver, Harrison Scott of Falcon Motorsport, current leader of the 2014 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship.
The pair will be competing in a new Ford Fiesta ST-3 1.6 litre EcoBoost with 182PS and a 0-62mph time of just 6.9 seconds.
Alongside them will be former rally star, Andy Dawson, who will be again participating with long time co-driver and motorsports journalist, Andrew Marriott, in a new Ford Focus ST-3 2.0T 250PS.
However, they face a formidable array of former champions including the current title-holders.
Nick Chapman and Rosemary Homer achieved an average of 88.69mpg last year in a Ford Fiesta ECOnetic 1.6 diesel-engined Titanium model, and out-performed the field of 23 other vehicles with a dazzling array of lean-driving skills.
Other previous winners taking part this year include John Kendall and Paul Nieuwenhuis; Paul Clifton; Andrew Duerden; John Kerswill and Ian McKean; Doug Powell and Trevor Holland; Mark Armstrong-Read and Ian Murray; and Dan Gilkes and Ray Penford.
Ross Durkin went on, “We are delighted to see so many of our former eco-driving champions line up to take part again. We are looking forward to new records being set as they apply their expert eco-driving and lean driving techniques to some of the very latest and most economic new models on the market.”
The event is again open to fleet managers, representatives from fleet services, contract hire and leasing and fleet management companies, and from the motor industry, plus anyone associated with it.
The 2014 MPG Marathon, the 14th to date, will be based at the luxurious Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
This year’s 360-mile route begins at Cirencester and takes in the Brecon Beacons in Wales plus a number of points in between, but contestants are allowed to plan their own routes, provided they include a number of pre-agreed, fixed points, which make keen navigational skills vital.
For the first time this year, electric and hybrid vehicles are being included in three new classes: for pure electric vehicles, for range extenders and for plug-in hybrids.
They will be joining the more familiar diesel and petrol engined cars and vans that traditionally take part in the event.
All cars will again be fitted with Tracker tracking equipment so that organisers will know exactly where each car has been and how far it has travelled.