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Fourth success for ex-rally driver in annual MPG Marathon

Fourth success for ex-rally driver in annual MPG Marathon

Three-time former champion Mick Linford has added to his haul of eco-driving trophies by taking first place in a highly competitive 2015 MPG Marathon, sponsored by Barclaycard Fuel+ in association with TMC, in a Peugeot 208 Active Blue HDi.

The former professional motorsport manager and rally driver, now an automotive events specialist, clocked up 104.5 mpg overall in the Peugeot, alongside part-time rally co-driver Jemma Champion.  

Mr Linford, who won the event three times from 2009 to 2011 said he was “over the moon” with the performance.

“I had no idea we had done so well. This is the highest MPG I have ever achieved in the event and I’m absolutely delighted to win it again,” he said.  

Mr Linford and Ms Champion finished just ahead of motoring journalist John Kerswill and co-driver, Ian McKean, who recorded an equally impressive 103.42 mpg in a Mazda 2 1.5 litre 105ps Sport Nav diesel.

They in turn were only just ahead of third placed drivers, John Kendall, editor of International Fleet World, and Paul Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff Business School, who recorded 103.28 mpg in a Citroen C4 Cactus Feel Blue HDi 100.  

Alongside the competition for the best outright MPG, the Marathon also challenged drivers to improve on the manufacturers’ official fuel consumption figures for their vehicle.  

Claiming first place in that category were Paul Clifton, the BBC’s transport correspondent for southern England, and former police inspector, Shaun Cronin. Behind the wheel of a Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE (2WD), they recorded 84.34 mpg, a 31.37% improvement over the manufacturer’s stated figures.  

In second place in the category were the overall winners Mr Linford and Ms Champion, whose outstanding performance was 29.49% better than the manufacturer’s official fuel consumption figures for their vehicle.  

And in third place in this section was last year’s overall winner, Honda engineer Fergal McGrath who, with co-driver Rick Rowles in a Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC, achieved a highly impressive 90.46 mpg, 24.94% better than the manufacturer’s figures.

Retired fleet manager Doug Powell won the new title of ‘most efficient fleet driver’ at this year’s MPG Marathon.  

Driving a BMW 320d ED Sport Saloon, with co-driver and navigator Richard Holt, Mr Powell clocked up  an overall mpg of 72.65, some 10.57% better than the official manufacturer stated figures for the vehicle of 65.7 mpg on the combined cycle.

Afterwards, Mr Powell said he’d relied on the eco-driving skills that he had learned from entering 14 of the previous 15 MPG Marathons. He said: “Eco-driving is all about planning and anticipating ahead, with as light a touch on the throttle as possible. You need to try and keep the car rolling at all times, especially when approaching traffic lights when you need to ease off well in advance, so that ideally you arrive just as the light turns to green.”

In the light commercial vehicle category, Van Fleet World editor Dan Gilkes turned in another outstanding performance. Behind the wheel of a Renault Traffic SL27 Energy dci 120 Sport and alongside regular co-driver Ray Penford, the van specialist recorded an overall mpg of 57.65.  

That was a 20.35% improvement over the manufacturer’s stated fuel consumption figures of 47.9 mpg on the combined cycle, and gave the pair a comfortable overall win, to go with the first place they achieved in the light commercial vehicle category in last year’s event.

In second place was another van specialist, Neil McIntee, who was driving a Citroen Berlingo Blue HDi 100 S/S in conjunction with co-driver Peter Thompson. The duo achieved an overall mpg of 68.64, some 1.98% better than the manufacturer’s stated figures of 67.3 mpg to claim the runners-up spot.  

In third place was RAC ‘Patrol of the Year’ Ben Wilson, who was valiantly taking part in the Mercedes Vito van that he uses every day in the course of his patrol duties, including a full load of 500 parts and tools. Alongside co-driver, Zainab Rahman, PR executive at the RAC, Mr Wilson drove his Vito 116 long diesel 116CDi Bluetec model, which bears the personalised registration plate, P1 RAC, to an overall mpg of 47.57 mpg. That was almost identical to the manufacturer’s stated figures of 47.1 mpg on the combined cycle, and was just 1.01% better than the official figures.  

Event organiser and Fleet World publishing director, Jerry Ramsdale, said: “This was probably our best MPG Marathon to date in terms of mileages achieved by what were, in all cases, standard production cars. 

“Above all else, this year’s event showed conclusively that the current generation of modern cars and vans is more fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly than ever before. It is an outstanding testimony to the achievements of all the participating motor manufacturers.”  

This year’s MPG Marathon comprised a combined total of approximately 380 miles across the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire/Hampshire countryside. Contestants were free to plan their own routes, provided they included a number of pre-agreed, fixed points, which made keen navigational skills essential.