Records tumble at OVERDRIVE's Hyundai 24 Hours Ultimate Endurance Challenge

Rishaad Mody  /
06 May 2014 15:47:14 IST

Ten years ago we decided we wanted to go fast; faster than anyone in India had been before. So we strapped ourselves into a pair of entry level hatchbacks and proceeded to set thirteen new records in terms of speed, distance and time over a period of 24 hours. Those records stood unchallenged till now. We've decided we'd like to go even faster.

Hyundai 24 Hour challenge (8)

Breaking the records meant we had to return to the establishment we originally used to set them. The Vehicle Research and Development centre or VRDE at Ahmednagar is the country's most comprehensive vehicle testing facility. The 4.2km high speed track isn't an oval but more of an irregular pentagon with four steeply banked corners. To break the records we enlisted two brand new 2014 Hyundai Vernas – one petrol and one diesel. The Verna is by far the most powerful car in its category but it also happens to be one of the most efficient. This combination of power and economy is just what we needed on a challenge like this. Power means more speed while efficiency allows us to keep reeling in the laps and cut down time in the pits for refueling.

We also needed a set of tyres that could handle considerable and unceasing abuse, which is why JK Tyre's accomplished Vectra was called into play. Running the speeds we intended for 24 hours straight meant massive stresses on the engines. Both cars would be sitting at the top of their rev ranges with no mercy being shown whatsoever. High quality engine oil was a must which is why we replaced the stock engine oil with fully synthetic 0W-40 oil from Mobil 1. Besides the fresh tyres and oil, the cars we ran were in complete factory spec. No weight reduction, no power boosting and no reworked suspension. Not even a roll cage. We simply belted up, turned on the aircon and drove as fast as we could.

Hyundai 24 Hour challenge (17)By night fall the temperatures began to dip and the engines began performing even better

Like any 24 hour race, we intended to drive in shifts. Driving at high speed is an exhaustive task and the concentration required is massively draining. There's also the fact that we were averaging over 150kmph per lap which meant that the cars would go through a tank of fuel in roughly two and a half hours' time. Simple math revealed that two hour stints in two cars would be too much for the six drivers in our team to handle. We needed four more drivers so we decided to get four of the best. Rayomand Banajee is one of the most gifted drivers Indian racing has seen who now works closely with JK's racing team. He also runs his own karting school and team called Rayo Racing which is producing some of the best talent Indian karting has seen yet. Armaan Ebrahim needs no introduction – he's one of India's most accomplished racing drivers and currently races overseas in the FIA GT1 championship. Chittesh Mandody and Vishnu Prasad are two rising stars in the Indian racing scene, with Chittesh having graduated from karting to FB02 (Formula BMW), while Vishnu is the current FB02 champion who's also just bagged a Formula 3 test. As for us, Bert, Shumi, Jamshed, Alan, Halley and myself would take turns over the next 24 hours.

We intended to flag off by 9am but like all important deadlines, we missed ours by about 3 hours. Finally, at 12:24 we were off. The drivers were split into two teams with Rayo heading the petrol and Armaan in charge of the diesel. On the very first lap – drama! Rayo came tearing down the main straight at about 180kmph when we suddenly heard frantic horn blaring and screeching tyres. Turns out a dog decided to amble across the track just as the first car came hurtling by. Of course Indian racers are used to wildlife on the race track and almost immediately, the racing began. It was calculated that we needed to set a lap time of 1:50 minutes to break the old Alto's records and by the second lap both Rayo and Armaan who set off in the petrol and diesel respectively were clocking 1:38s. Soon we had already smashed the first record of reaching the 100km mark by a massive six minutes. Things were looking good.

Hyundai 24 Hour challenge (19)We were flying and by the half way mark we were 350km over the previous 12 hour record.

On the previous night we had a short recce that happened to be a rather terrifying experience considering it was the first time most of us were driving on a steep embankment at speed in pitch darkness. As a result we emerged agreeing to let the racer boys set the hot laps while we'd hold the pace steady in the mid 1:40s. But then something unexpected happened. Halley who set out in second stint in the diesel started to go very fast and was soon setting low 1:30s. For that brief moment, team OD wasn't just keeping up with the racers, we were faster! It was a big confidence boost. But soon Bert came on the radio asking Halley to slow down to preserve the tyres. We only had five to a car.

We were flying and by the half way mark we were already 350km over the previous 12 hour record. But we hit a problem. Our pitstops were taking an awful amount of time. Back in 2003 we had a proper fuel bowser and had wasted just 9 minutes in the pits over the entire 24 hours. However today, no oil company is permitted to fund or be part of such an exercise which is why we had to do it the old way – with a jerry can. As a result, our very first pit itself took over three minutes. Soon it also became clear that the petrol was fighting an uphill battle. The diesel was just as quick but had an extra sixth gear and was considerably more efficient. It was the diesel that was going to break the record for us.

My first stint began at 16:00 and ended at 18:15. At first I was nervously braking into all the corners and entering the intimidating looking banks at about 140kmph. But I soon got more and more comfortable and eventually started entering them without touching the brakes, at about 180kmph. Just a slight lift off was enough. My best time was a low 1:30 which was the fastest time in the petrol all day. But then the temperatures began to dip and the engines began performing better. Jamshed in the diesel was going faster and faster until he breached the 1:26 second mark and was averaging a ballistic 175kmph. And then Chittesh went and did a 1:23 in the petrol. Which meant that this madman was averaging 180kmph. That was the fastest time of the whole run.

24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE


  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) NEW RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:41:14.5
200 01:20:03.8
500 03:15:50.9
1000 06:25:50.4
1500 09:33:48.7
2000 12:52:41.8
2500 16:02:30.0
3000 19:33:48.1
3500 23:17:11.5
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 145.8
200 149.3
500 161.7
1000 155.6
1500 156.9
2000 155.4
2500 155.9
3000 153.4
3500 150.3
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) PREVIOUS RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:46:44.8
200 01:34:44.4
500 03:55:35.8
1000 07:56:43.7
1500 11:56:13.5
2000 15:47:59.7
2500 19:35:04.7
3000 23:21:41.5
3500 NA
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 128.4
200 126.7
500 127.3
1000 125.9
1500 125.7
2000 126.6
2500 127.7
3000 128.4
3500 NA
  

What's so impressive about these times was the bumpy nature of the track. A banked course should replicate a never ending straight but this one has a few nasty bumps mid corner. At about 140kmph they aren't so bad but at 180kmph they were giving the car's suspension such a bashing that the wipers would turn on automatically. Fortunately, the 2014 Verna has improved suspension control and stiffer steering which boosted confidence over these bumps. But the cars were taking a beating.

So we had a call to make; either we drive through the bumps and risk catastrophic suspension damage or we drive around them. The issue was that these high speed direction changes on the concrete surface were putting immense and unnatural stresses on the side walls of the right hand side tyres (all the turns were left handers). Inevitably we started to get uneven wear and had to devote more time in the pits swapping tyres from left to right.

All in all, we made about four tyre swaps over the 24 hours, including donating a good tyre from the petrol to the faster diesel. It was an unfortunate but unavoidable sacrifice we had to make. To the JK's credit, they handled the abuse we threw at them exceedingly well and we didn't have a single tyre failure. By sunrise, we decided to reduce speeds to help the tyres last the distance. With two hours left to go we were already about 270km over the existing 24 hour record! As we lowered the pace, the diesel was indicating a phenomenal 14.5kmpl despite holding about 140kmph, while the petrol wasn't much lower at 11kmpl.

24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE


  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) NEW RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:41:14.5
200 01:20:03.8
500 03:15:50.9
1000 06:25:50.4
1500 09:33:48.7
2000 12:52:41.8
2500 16:02:30.0
3000 19:33:48.1
3500 23:17:11.5
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 145.8
200 149.3
500 161.7
1000 155.6
1500 156.9
2000 155.4
2500 155.9
3000 153.4
3500 150.3
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) PREVIOUS RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:46:44.8
200 01:34:44.4
500 03:55:35.8
1000 07:56:43.7
1500 11:56:13.5
2000 15:47:59.7
2500 19:35:04.7
3000 23:21:41.5
3500 NA
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 128.4
200 126.7
500 127.3
1000 125.9
1500 125.7
2000 126.6
2500 127.7
3000 128.4
3500 NA
  

24 hours and we had shattered every record including adding a new one for breaching 3,500km. The diesel ran 520.6km more than the previous record of 3,083km and achieved a new record of 3603.6km. After all this abuse both cars were running fine and we even drove one back to Mumbai.

The entire operation was one of the most hectic and exhausting 48 hours of our lives. The clichéd way to conclude would be to say something like, "That's how we roll". But the story doesn't end there. Immediately after the event we all drove back to Mumbai, with the last of us getting home after midnight. We threw some fresh clothes into a travel bag and grabbed a few hours of sleep. Then, at 6am the next morning, began the near 1,500km drive to Delhi for the Auto Expo. Now that, is how we at OD roll.

24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE


  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) NEW RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:41:14.5
200 01:20:03.8
500 03:15:50.9
1000 06:25:50.4
1500 09:33:48.7
2000 12:52:41.8
2500 16:02:30.0
3000 19:33:48.1
3500 23:17:11.5
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 145.8
200 149.3
500 161.7
1000 155.6
1500 156.9
2000 155.4
2500 155.9
3000 153.4
3500 150.3
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) PREVIOUS RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:46:44.8
200 01:34:44.4
500 03:55:35.8
1000 07:56:43.7
1500 11:56:13.5
2000 15:47:59.7
2500 19:35:04.7
3000 23:21:41.5
3500 NA
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 128.4
200 126.7
500 127.3
1000 125.9
1500 125.7
2000 126.6
2500 127.7
3000 128.4
3500 NA
  

24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE


  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) NEW RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:41:14.5
200 01:20:03.8
500 03:15:50.9
1000 06:25:50.4
1500 09:33:48.7
2000 12:52:41.8
2500 16:02:30.0
3000 19:33:48.1
3500 23:17:11.5
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 145.8
200 149.3
500 161.7
1000 155.6
1500 156.9
2000 155.4
2500 155.9
3000 153.4
3500 150.3
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) PREVIOUS RECORD
TIME (hh:mm:ss)
100 00:46:44.8
200 01:34:44.4
500 03:55:35.8
1000 07:56:43.7
1500 11:56:13.5
2000 15:47:59.7
2500 19:35:04.7
3000 23:21:41.5
3500 NA
  
24 HOURS DISTANCE RECORDS AT VRDE #colspan#
DISTANCE (km) #colspan#
AVG SPEED (kmph)
100 128.4
200 126.7
500 127.3
1000 125.9
1500 125.7
2000 126.6
2500 127.7
3000 128.4
3500 NA
  

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Rs. 10 Lakhs
Displacement
1582cc
Transmission
Manual
Max Power(ps)
128
Max Torque(Nm)
260
Mileage
15.92 Kmpl

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