Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2019 Begins Monday -
Team UP Dagisik Sees Strength in Experienced Driver
More than 100 student teams and the ultra-efficient vehicles they devoted the last few months to build will hit the track at the Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur on April 29 for Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2019. Sponsored by Power Integrations, Team UP Dagisik from University of Philippines Diliman is hoping that the combination of a newly designed car and a veteran driver can bring home the team’s first title since 2015.
Driver Jared Baniqued joined Team UP Dagisik three years ago as a member of the support staff and became the driver last year. Pursuing a master’s degree in power electronics this year, he is back in the driver’s seat for one more run at the championship trophy.
“Even though I am in EEE, I’m always interested in mechanical engineering. The thought of being able to build a car from scratch really excites me,” Baniqued said. “In engineering, we design things to make life easier or better. Building things makes me happy. That’s why I keep coming back.”
For the first time, Baniqued will pilot a car that incorporates his driving experience into its design, including a simplified steering wheel that cuts its weight from 2 kg to less than 1 kg. The driver’s seat is moved backwards to maximize torque of the BLDC motor, as well as adding much appreciated legroom. Falcon-wing doors not only give the new car its distinctive look, they also reduce the risk of door malfunction, which impacted the team’s performance last year.
“The suicide doors on last year’s car suddenly opened during a run,” Baniqued recalled. “I had to hold the door with one hand and drive with the other in strong wind and drizzle. Making proper turns took some strength. Meanwhile, I could really feel the wind fighting back. It was really stressful.”
Also expected to improve is Baniqued‘s driving technique. Unlike a typical auto race, the objective of Eco-marathon is to complete the circuit using the least amount of energy. In the Battery-powered Urban Concept Car category, vehicles usually don’t go over 25 kmh. Driving faster means keeping the motor running longer and expending more energy.
“It feels like you are driving fast, but it actually is not,” Baniqued said. “It takes some time to understand how slow everything really is. I need to read the racing lines well, max out the throttle and glide until the next turn to reduce the running time of the motor, but that can get complicated because much faster cars competing in the ICE category are on the track at the same time. It’s all about maneuvering around those obstacles.”
The venue for this year’s race is the Sepang International Circuit, which hosted the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix between 1999 and 2017 and is still home to the Malaysian MotoGP. To practice navigating the race track, Baniqued is now playing an earlier installment of the popular F1 video game series. He is also hitting the gym regularly to lose some weight. “I started calorie counting and some jogging since January,” he said. “I didn’t do any of those things last year. I’m just trying to help the team every way I can. I want to represent the school and the country. I want to win.”
Power Integrations will be on-site at the Sepang International Circuit to cheer Team UP Dagisik on. Follow the race live starting April 29 on Twitter @PwrInt.
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Team Manager Christian Ong (left) helps Baniqued prepare for a test run.