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There was a big change in fuel economy figures on Wednesday, November 13, as competitors in the inaugural WesBank SA Fuel Economy Tour in partnership with FNB, tackled vastly different road and traffic conditions as they drove from Durban to East London.

The first day’s route, from the start in Johannesburg to the Durban beachfront, was mainly on highways and generally downhill, with several sections of road works in the vicinity of the Van Reenen’s Pass. By contrast, the second day of the five-day tour had no roadworks but took the vehicles inland to towns such as Kokstad, Mthatha and Butterworth where there were twisty, hilly roads, mainly single lanes in each direction, with fairly heavy traffic encountered as they passed through the various towns.

This required good planning to build up time where possible to ensure one was not late to arrive at the control points. Yesterday six of the 40 vehicles were penalised for late arrival at controls – despite the extra five-minute leeway given by the organisers to deal with heavy traffic. None of the vehicles were penalised for lateness on the previous day.

“The second day of the 2 500 km route was always going to be the toughest and it also served to increase fuel consumption,” explained Chief Organiser Charl Wilken.

“On the first day there were 18 vehicles that recorded fuel consumption figures better than 5l/100km. Today there were only five. Combined results for the first two days – without the addition of penalties for lateness – varied from 4.6730 l/100km to 8.1076 l/100km.”

Besides the tight battles in the various classes, there is also a titanic struggle for the coveted award as the most fuel-efficient brand, with Suzuki yesterday edging out first day leader Renault at the top of the table. These two are now followed by Mahindra, Nissan, and Ford after the order for 3rd, 4th and 5th places at the end of Day 1 had been Ford, Hyundai, and Nissan. These results are computed using the average fuel consumption of the three best-performing models from each brand.

Class leaders at the end of Day 2 were: Suzuki (6), Hyundai (3), Ford (2), Renault (2), Toyota (2), Honda and Lexus (1 each).

The third day of this event takes competitors from East London to Port Elizabeth on 14 November, with the fourth leg going on to George and then the final leg, on Saturday, 16 November, taking competitors to the finish in Cape Town.