DTU driver poses with helmet on her shoulder

DTU Roadrunners stormed the 2019 Shell Eco-marathon Europe, taking part in the Urban Concept Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) category, with their car ‘Dynamo’ which they designed and built to run on bioethanol.

The Danish team achieved the equivalent of 429km on a single litre of fuel - 90km more than the car in second place, and securing their place in the global competition, Shell Eco-marathon World Championship. 

That year, they not only took the top slot in the Europe Regional competition in their category, but came away with third place in the final of the Shell Eco-marathon World Championship – a race to cross the finish line without running out of their energy allowance. 

Here we take a look Under The Hood, and speak to three key team members of the Danish University team, DTU Roadrunners.

DTU Roadrunners

Car type: Urban Concept

Energy Category: Internal Combustion Engine (Ethanol)

2019 Accomplishments: 

  • 1st place ICE Urban Concept category, Shell Eco-marathon Europe
  • 3rd place Shell Eco-marathon World Championship
DTU team member next to a Ferrari F1 car

Christoffer Ebert: Team Manager

Hi Chris, what was your role on the team? 

I was Team Manager: head of all communications with Shell, in charge of logistics, getting us places, registration, making sure everything worked.

I’m a fibre composite engineer, I thought I’d be making some nice composite wheels, but no-one wanted to be team lead - so I put my hand up! It’s not a glorious story!

Tell us about your season last year

There were a lot of ups and downs. At the Shell Eco-marathon Europe Regional competition we had a great first day, recorded a great time, so we decided to put a new and improved engine in that we wanted to trial and test for the World Championship. But we spent most of Wednesday fitting the new engine and unfortunately, it blew a gasket that we couldn’t replace.

So, we had to switch it back in order to be able to continue in the race. Which meant we lost all afternoon and all of Thursday morning which meant we only had one session left on Thursday.

Luckily our time was enough to take us to victory - but then we had drama when we were nearly disqualified from the World Championship for running late because of the engine problems. Luckily we managed to convince the race director to let us stay in, and then placed third which was such a relief.

What was the highlight of your year?

Winning (the Urban Concept ICE category in) Shell Eco-marathon Europe.

What have you learned? 

One of the really key things I’ve learnt is communication. You need to understand what everyone in your team is doing to make things happen. Collaboration means understanding how everyone around you works.

What is next for you?

I would like to go into product design of some sort. My passion is cycling and I’d love to work on a speed recumberland (a type of bicycle) The fibre composite work and aerodynamics optimisation would make it really interesting for me.

Who is your hero?

Adam Hansen. Mr Grand Tour, he’s a pro cyclist, but he’s also an engineer so makes all his own equipment, helps other teams with their problems. I find him and that whole way of being really inspiring.

What is the best thing about Shell Eco-marathon?

The most important thing about Shell Eco-marathon is that it teaches us to always think green in our work. It paves the way to make us think about it and forces us to think about sustainability and think about eco mechanics.

I think if you just have a general awareness of it then you’ll most likely take it into your work no matter what sector you work in. The fact that we have so many engineering students dedicated to making a more sustainable world, for the next generation, that’s one of the very important aspects of Shell Eco-marathon.

Do you have a message for anyone planning to take part?

Go for it. Even if you think you have no idea what you’re doing. All teams will be happy to have you, there will be friendships for life and you’ll have an amazing experience and it will help you immensely.

Driver gives team member a high-five

Sarah Conradsen: Driver 

What is your role on the team?

I am the driver. I see the role of the driver as two fold. On one side you do your best to work with the team to establish the best way to drive efficiently. Here you have to work with everyone on the team - from the people who design the steering wheel, to the chassis mechanics - to make sure you’re driving in the most efficient way possible. I need to be so close to the performance of the car, it’s so much easier to tell the team if there is a problem with the car.

I got into it because I’m not very tall! You have to be light. 

What was your Shell Eco-marathon highlight? 

When we got third in the World Championship. We weren’t really prepared for it, we didn’t really have a strategy, so it came as a surprise, and was a really fun experience. It’s a different feel when you know you are racing other teams properly, it’s different from Shell Eco-marathon Regional competition, and I know you aren’t exactly driving fast, but it’s still fun to race. 

What did you learn in Shell Eco-marathon? 

Working as a team, and being able to give and receive feedback. Also as a leader, accept you don’t know everything, and put faith in your team. 

What do you want to do next?

I’d like to start something myself. Build something up from the ground. I like working on small teams who are passionate, this is one thing I’ve learnt I like from working on Shell Eco-marathon. But ultimately something that is innovative and engaging. 

Who is your hero? 

My teachers over the years. They have been the closest I’ve had to role models in science. 

What’s the best thing about Shell Eco-marathon?

The camaraderie between the teams. 

What message do you have for anyone thinking about taking part?

Just do it. Even if you don’t get past the technical inspection, you meet people and have great new experiences.

Man points at paper pad

David Mularczyk: Engineer

What is your role on the team?

My task was creating a new shell for the car. Because there were new rules we had to create two doors in the Urban Concept vehicle. My job was to amend the design so we could get two door handles on the car. 

Other than that, I also helped with the braking system, and when we were on the racetrack I was one of the head mechanics.

Tell us about your Shell Eco-marathon journey

Our Eco-marathon was full of drama, our first result of 429km (on 1 litre of fuel) in the Eco-marathon was so good we qualified for the World Championship. We were then disqualified due to a misunderstanding in the pits, which was heartbreaking, then we were allowed back in again after an intervention from our team manager who managed to persuade the race directors to allow us back in.

DTU team member raises arm in celebration

What was the highlight? 

It was a rollercoaster, the last few years DTU had performed very well, so the pressure was on us to perform. So when we were disqualified it was a real kick to the teeth, when we were allowed back in, that was the highlight, the relief was even better than winning. 

What do you want to do next?

I want to contribute to the world and make it more sustainable. But then I have a great passion for fast cars. I am dreaming of getting into the automotive industry after my studies. 

Who is your hero? 

Enzo Ferrari

What's the best thing about Shell Eco-marathon?

It’s very important to try out a real life experience like this. It’s hands on, so it’s different to studying, which is all theoretical. You get to experience a race track, you're under pressure and you have to compete against others. It helps you grow and really gets you motivated for your future. 

What message do you have for anyone thinking about taking part?

You’ll learn so much and really grow. It really makes you step out of your comfort zone, do it right away if you have the chance.

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