MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn., July 11, 2018 – The Saint Thomas Academy Experimental Vehicle Team (EVT) culminated another successful year on Sunday, July 8, as it finished fifth in the world in the 2018 Shell Eco-marathon Drivers’ World Championship. Unlike the 2017 grand finale cut short by rain, the 2018 race took place on a sweltering, sun-drenched day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
The Saint Thomas Academy team earned its third-consecutive trip to the global stage by placing first in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas Drivers’ World Championship, held in Sonoma, California, in April. The EVT beat out teams, including several university teams, from North and South America that raced hydrogen, battery-electric and internal-combustion powered UrbanConcept cars. The top three teams from the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, Asia and Europe comprised the nine-car field for the international finale.
Unlike a typical race, this real-world engineering competition recognizes teams for both finish position and using the least amount of energy. Drivers and their pit crews are in constant communication as they consider their laps to go and their cars’ remaining energy levels, which are provided by onboard telemetry systems. Teams carefully strategize when to expend more energy to move up in the field. This year’s serpentine course provided limited opportunity for drivers to overtake others during the 10-lap race.
The EVT started in the seventh position and had a further set back when its telemetry system malfunctioned. Driver Joe Zirnhelt ’18 of Eagan maneuvered the team’s battery-electric car to a fifth-place finish. After some confusion, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember of Indonesia was named the champion, followed by Saskatchewan Polytechnic of Canada.
The Shell Eco-marathon encourages interest and skill development in engineering disciplines among high school and college students as they design, build and race the most energy-efficient concept cars. Alumni of the Shell Eco-marathon have gone on to work at Telsa, Toyota and other major automakers. Four class of 2018 EVT team members have secured spots in the freshmen class at the highly selective School of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, which receives 14,000 applications for 1,100 spots.
The Academy team members in London included:
- Driver: Joe Zirnhelt ’18
- Devin McGill ’18
- Nicholas Kern ’18
- Alex Moeller ’18
- Zachary Keller ’18
- Joe McMahon ’19
- Peter Holmes ’19
- Developed using CAD software
- Single-person vehicle
- Weight: approx. 114 kilograms
- Top speed: 35 mph
- Street-legal lighting
- 4-wheel independent suspension
- 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
- Full roll cage, seat belt and 5-point safety harness to protect the driver in the event of a crash