In Summary
  • Last Saturday I was among the nine drivers that were lined up for the Shell Fuel Save race 2017.
  • When the seal was removed and our tank refilled, we had used 3.47 litres.

No, the headline is not misleading. True story. Last Saturday I was among the nine drivers that were lined up for the Shell Fuel Save race 2017.
We should have been 10 but the other driver seemed to have chickened out.
Among the cars in the race were a Toyota Nadia, a Grand Hiace, Pajero Mitsubishi, Impreza WRX, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Wish, Mark II and a Mercedes C-Class and my Toyota Vitz.
Of course anyone who sees a Vitz on the lineup of a fuel-saving race will hurry to place it as the winning car.
However, the fuel capacity of a car never guarantees less consumption; it is more about your driving habits.

The assembling point for all racers was Shell Bugolobi and at 10am, one by one, the drivers were flagged off, each with a full tank.
Destination: Entebbe, a distance of 78 kilometres south west of Kampala.
The fuel tanks were sealed off to ensure that the drivers did not make any stops to refuel and no short cuts could be taken because along the race we had to make stops at various Shell petrol stations, where the station managers took selfies with us for evidence purposes.

My co-driver Jackqueline Laker and I were enjoying the trip like any normal ride and in fact at some point we almost missed a stop because we were lost in silly conversation.
The other only difference was that we were driving a little slower than usual. We arrived at our last stop, Shell Entebbe after 12pm and made an immediate return to Kampala.
Those who know Entebbe Road must be thinking – traffic jam, but either the timing was perfect or we were just lucky because if there was any annoying jam, it did not last 10 minutes.
At about 2pm, we were back at Shell Bugolobi, arriving in eighth position. Everyone was waiting by the fuel pump to see how much fuel we had used. The attention was too much my nerves begun to give way.
When the seal was removed and our tank refilled, we had used 3.47 litres. This meant that our car had covered 22 kilometres per litre of fuel.
In second place was Bansal Singh, who is part of a children’s charity mission called Miles for Smiles. He covered 16 kilometres per litre in his Pajero Junior.

How we saved fuel
Before we set off, we got some fuel saving tips from car expert Paul Kaganzi, a Vivo Energy Uganda ambassador and writer with Daily Monitor.
Kaganzi cautioned us not to insert too much pressure while accelerating, keeping a distance from other cars to avoid instant braking as well as minimising the use of air conditioning. The first thing Laker and I did when we got to Bugolobi, was check our tyre pressure to ensure that they were balanced.
Since my car has a faulty air conditioning system, it worked in our favour. Our windows were raised for most of the journey and my co-driver was keen on any temptation to sneak in extra air.
The speed limit for us was 40 kilometres per hour and if we did any speeding, it was 50, which instantly caught our attention.
My Vitz without a doubt had an advantage over the other cars, but the kind of fuel one uses and the driving habits matter. When Patrick Salvador Idringi, who was one of the contestants, asked at what point we carried our car, we could not help but share in the joke, because it was funny, right? After all, we were walking away with Shs1m worth of Shell fuel.