Six Days In A Mazdas

Sordo made friends with a spectator's Bulldog, much to the amusement of Gronholm who naturally saw the uncanny likeness between the two.

We also all stopped to take photos of a major spectator point, defined by green and white tape, that had been taken over by four enormous bulls - not a spectator in sight.

All were unanimous in not moving a spectator's Toyota Prado, parked In one of the world's most spectacular rally viewing areas, on a tiny track above Queenstown.

1 was not to know that Tasmania's finest log their fuel use carefully.

I was certainly not expecting they would now initiate their surprising ability to drive with a featherfoot while wearing such large boots.

But I could never have predicted that we would have fallen fifteen minutes behind them before the daunting Mt Arrowsmith, having stopped for most of that time to help set up the previous stage properly.

On a long, mountainous climb to the start of the Rossarden stage, I noticed that Gronholm and Sordo were hustling the Falcon along quite hard.

You could see It sitting on the bump stops having used all its suspension travel up through the corners and you could smell the rotten egg gas from long applications of full throttle.

When we got to the end, Gronholm, who had been at the wheel, looked sweaty and said, glaring at the Mazda, "Your thing Is four-wheel-drive Isn't it?"

He looked a little hurt at the thought of it being only two-wheel-drive and a diesel at that but I soon began to regret my next words being, "And I reckon we're using half as much fuel as you."

To that point, the Mazda had been averaging between 6.7 and 6.9 1/100km so it seemed a smart-arse thing to say, at the time.

And so it was we found ourselves at 160km/h, using long applications of full throttle in the Mazda, wipers just managing to keep the screen clear In the belting rain doing our very best to get back on schedule but knowing full well that Diesels also start drinking heavily at such wide throttle openings.

By the time we reached New Norfolk, Danni and Marcus were refuelling the wallowing and decidedly tired looking Falcon for the final time and proudly calculating their final average of 12.841/100km.

Hanging our heads in shame, our tank which included Arrowsmith had pulled our average up to 7.83l/100krn.

Somehow, travelling considerably faster than the police, while using just 60 percent of their fuel, saw us the losers!

It was a bitter end to a memorable week.

Little consolation that Sordo and Gronholm appeared to be limping slightly from a week in the 'winning' vehicle.

We could not have been in a better car and normally after such long distances and under pressure, you can't wait to get out.

Right: Senior Sergeant Danny Russell (Danni Sordo) interviewing a suspect.

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I am hard pressed to think of a more driver-friendly and effective car, regardless of price, for a hot lap of Tasmania let alone one that averages 7.83 1/100km at the same time.

To add quietness, comfort and not a rattle or squeak after six days of abuse is truly a testament to a fine product.

Right: Senior Sergeant Danny Russell (Danni Sordo) interviewing a suspect.

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Liquid LPG injection changes the gas equation he last time fuel prices spiked around $1.70 per litre it became very obvious that nobody actually slowed down. On the freeway, just as many people flashed past as ever, while cars with one occupant still choked the roads at peak hour. Everybody cursed the price of fuel, yet nobody seemed to consider changing their driving habits to try and compensate.

Now consider LPG. Usually perceived as a poor man's fuel, it has been largely ignored by motorists and automotive manufacturers alike. Yet, for years LPG has been saving smart owners thousands of dollars. The only unfortunate aspect for the gas user, apart from the image perception, has been the trade-off between performance and economy.

A litre of LPG contains 20 percent less energy than a litre of petrol, so you need to use more for a given power output. This has long been a problem that has been compounded by the lack of development in delivering the fuel to the engine. Petrol systems have received continuous development, while LPG systems have not. Consequently, while conventional engines have become increasingly efficient, LPG systems have lagged further behind. This has further exacerbated the performance and fuel consumption disparity.

Today you can buy any new car with factory-fitted LPG, as long as it's a Falcon or Commodore. Ford fits an ancient gas vapour system to its LPG-only E-gas Falcon, while Holden use a more modern and efficient vapour-injection system on its dual-fuel Commodore. It seems the American head offices of both companies are largely LPG-ignorant, and we, as consumers of insignificant number, have just had to take what we were given. Or rather, that has been the case until now.

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