Suzuki Alto - BNE to SYD
ALTO HITS FUEL ECONOMY FOR SIX
Challenge: Brisbane to Sydney on one tank of fuel
Alto fuel tank size: 35 litres
Fuel used: 34.47 litres
Economy: 3.74 litres per 100km or 75.23 mpg
Fuel price on refill : $1.36 centre per litre
Fuel cost Brisbane to Sydney: $47.05
It's 4 a.m. the alarm rings. Not happy. Late night trying to claw back some Backgammon points from the neighbours, not as much sleep as needed and time to head to Suzuki Auto Co. to collect the spritely Suzuki Alto for a Brisbane to Sydney fuel trial.
The challenge - Brisbane to Sydney on one tank of petrol noting that the tank of the diminutive Alto is only 35 litres.For the pre-metric folks, that's 7.67 gallons.
(I couldn't help but wish for a few more litres just to take the knife edge off the challenge - the mind turned to the old GT Phase II Falcon piloted from lap two to race victory at Bathurst in 1970 that had a 164 litre tank or 36 gallons).
5.15 a.m. depart Brisbane – more traffic than I had expected for a trip calculated to be 920km from
Eagle Farm on Brisbane's northside to a significant Sydney landmark where we would not cause a traffic accident if we ran out of fuel. Westfield Shopping Centre at Hornsby - that's the go.
6 a.m. Hello co-driver Mike Turner and goodbye Coomera. Several handfuls of competitive outings in a variety of racing motorcycle, karts and cars had proved one thing - if you start fast, you finish fast; if you start slow, you finish slow. Surely if we started economically, we would finish economically?
Ultra-smooth cornering lines so as to not to wash off speed, read the traffic at least a kilometre ahead to pace the conditions - you get the idea.
The Alto has a digital fuel gauge which proved to be excruciatingly accurate. What ever happened to a bit of grace? Ten little marks - later to become affectionately known as "men" stood between Brisbane, Sydney and success. If they bite the dust - game over - we lose.
12.20 p.m. Around seven hours later five men down, five remaining and 492km covered in the first stint. Looking good for 984km and success. Highest speed was 107km/h and the moving average was 73.7km/h thanks to an endless string of road works in northern NSW.
A few minutes later, 500km down, 5 bottles of water down, five fuel men down. The long grass is strung through the three-stand-barbed wire fences at the side of the road - evidence of the relatively recent floods. Five tactical response four-wheel drives and two police bikes fly past in the opposite direction. Can't help but think they'd make the perfect escort heading the opposite way.
12.50 p.m. The mental arithmetic challenges start kicking in big time. We need to have four fuel men when we have 300km to go. That way I'll be comfortable.
1.14 p.m. Hastings - 562km down , six men down 358km to go and an average speed of 74.2km/h - will the road works ever stop? Zones of 40km/h, 50km/h 60km/h - sometimes for 30km continuously, but it looks like it is going to be a great road when finished.
1.45 p.m. 600km down, 320 km to go and four fuel men still with us. Excellent. Best news all day. We're a "definite maybe" to succeed.
2.10 p.m. Just 25 minutes later and we go from the penthouse to the dog house. We lose a man crossing a bridge. Where did he go? Did he jump into the river below: Damn - we've now got 290km to go and only three men on the fuel gauge. This is going to be tight. We need around 100km from each man and that hasn't been happening.
2.35 p.m. We overtake a haul truck and dog trailer at Talawahl Creek (but admittedly, the truck had just pulled out on to the highway). Three quaint names slip by - Possum Brush Road, Bullocky Creek - 654km into the trip. We've still go three fuel men.
2.50 p.m. Heartbreak - 699km down, we lose another fuel man. The score: 219 to go and only two men. Again, we're on the one man per 100km threat. Speed average just on 75km/h - perhaps the road works are assisting our economy more than hindering?
4.20 p.m. A red light - damn. 784km down but still two men. Surely the second last man is getting tired?
4.50 p.m. The nervousness increases - bang. Another man disappears off the screen as if taken out in a game of Space Invaders. Fuel warning light comes on - this is going to be tight. We've gone from a "definite maybe" of achieving the goal, to a potential fall just before the finish line. We’ve seen it in Olympic marathons - a full body melt down within sight of the finish line. Living cruelty. 101km to go - is this last man standing going to be an Anzac or a tail end batsman? Orange warning light comes on and now the last man starts flashing. Only a big toe now caressing the accelerator - perfect timing needed to catch the green lights, perfect timing to cruise effortlessly around the roundabouts without stopping.
5.50 p.m. He's still there flashing. This can't be good. 100km already from our last batsman - what a hero.
6 p.m. Berowra Waters Road -well - that's kind of Sydney, but still 10km short of our target. Was that a fuel cough from our little Alto? Does the engine sound a littler harsher to you Mike? Soldier on - it's a showdown.
6.10 p.m. How did he stay on the gauge for another 10 minutes? This is 100 runs from Brett Lee. 915.5km on the clock. C'mon Brett - smack a four and we're home.
6.13 p.m. The BP next to the Westfield Shopping Centre at Hornsby. 12 hours and 11 minutes down, average travelling speed 74km/h. 920.5km on one tank of fuel. We win the ashes with a medicine glass of fuel left up our sleeve.
The Fuel Economy Ashes are ours.