International B Series - Coffee Break Challenge #6
Eco Challenge Stage 2
The second Eco Challenge is a nifty, devious task. Your job is to make it around the track of the Suzuka Circuit using one single liter of fuel. As with the first Eco Challenge, the core concepts are similar – don’t gun it off the line, brake as infrequently as possible, and ease on and off the accelerator. But that’s just the start.
The target time for Gold is 3:10, so this is quite a bit longer than your first Eco Challenge. Your car is a 2010 Honda CR-Z, and it’s the perfect vehicle for this tough challenge. Suzuka Circuit has a couple of long straights but also several blisteringly difficult turns; managing your speed and fuel will take several (if not more) practice sessions.
To begin, you have a rolling start in a straightaway. You’ll need to move between 75 and 85 MPH, moving from 3rd to 4th gear during this beginning stretch. Lightly tap the brakes heading into the first major turn, but not too much. Keep your momentum as much as possible.
Take the first main turn from a pace of 80 MPH down to 60 or so, letting your momentum move you as you conserve fuel. By the time you exit the first main turn and head into the first twist, you should be moving at about 68 MPH and have .81 L of fuel.
Lightly tap the accelerator through the twist, maintaining a pace of around 62 MPH. Coming out, accelerate a bit to keep on your timing goals. You’ll be winding through a series of slight turns, so remember to brake lightly and accelerate with purpose only in short bursts. When you are at the point you see the huge Ferris Wheel off to your right, you should have at least .73 L of fuel and be moving at around 60 MPH, maintaining 3rd gear. You’re doing great!
The next part of the race is crucial – you need to maintain a speed of around 70 MPH and stay in third gear. The turns are gentle and your momentum will do a bit of the trick. Conserve fuel but be sure to not move too slowly. There’s a bit of a straightaway before a set of two fairly hard right turns. This is another tricky part coming up!
As you approach the two rights, you need to have about 6.2 L of fuel. If you can, don’t brake on either of the two right turns; instead, approach them traveling at about 70 MPH in 3rd gear and let the car do the work for you. Don’t hit the gas at all through either one; by the time you exit the second turn you’ll be down to 52 MPH or so but won’t have touched your precious fuel. There’s a quick straightaway after this, a perfect time to speed up to the mid 70’s; by the time you reach the start of the horseshoe, you should have .56 L of fuel and be moving at 70 MPH.
Ease off the gas heading into the horseshoe. Again, let the car do as much of the work as possible. At the start of the tightest turn (the base of the horseshoe) you will need to brake, but do it gently. Travel through the turn in the mid 30 MPH range. Then, once you exited the turn, hit the gas (gently!). By the time you’re leaving the end of the horseshoe, you are halfway done from a time perspective as well as fuel.
The next part of Suzuka is a long, winding curve. Use gas sparingly but move the speed from the mid 60s to low 70s as you approach the next long turn. Try not to brake through this turn; rather, stay as close to the inside line as possible while moving at around 60 MPH. Out of this, time to hit the gas again for a long straight. If you’ve got .38 L of gas by now, you’re in great shape.
The long straight is where you’ll be steadily accelerating up to a speed of over 100 MPH, and the only place you’ll make it to 4th gear. Again, be gentle on the gas. Don’t gun it. Heading into the left turn, ease off the gas. You should have less than a quarter tank by now and be around the 2:38 mark as you hit it. You can make the turn without brakes while traveling 90 MPH if you’re careful. There’s another brief straight where you let the car do your work for you.
A dangerous S-curve awaits next. You will have to brake. Get to the low 40 MPH range then take the curve as deliberately as possible. Once you’re out of the S-curve, you should have just enough gas to accelerate into the final stretch. Hit the accelerator and get to the finish line in just under 3:10 to claim the gold!