John George – Putting his foot on the gas! - 22/03/04
Mardi Gras Motorsport will make history on Sunday 11th April at Thruxton when John George becomes the first driver to race an LPG-powered car in the BTCC. The team’s ETCC spec Honda Civic Type-R has been converted to race on liquid petroleum gas by Holland based engine conversion specialist Prins Autogassystemen.
The car ran for the first time at Donington Park at the BTCC media day, and there is still some work to be done: “We’re still running on both fuels at the moment”, explained George. “I just took it out on the track for the first time and did a lap running on LPG and a lap on petrol.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t get much of a chance to run the car as a petrol version before having it converted so we have nothing to compare it against. We will do traces on both fuels though and try to work out how we’re doing. But we will run on LPG or not at all, as we have had a lot of support from the company that did the conversion.”
The unique refuelling system on the Mardi Gras Civic sees the use of replacement fuel tanks each time the gas is used up. “We have a bit of work to do there as well”, added George. “At the moment we don’t know how far we can go on a tank, which is a small problem.”
Another difficulty to overcome is that of the weight distribution in the car. The LPG tanks, which are around half a metre in length and have a diameter of about half that much, add a considerable weight penalty to the car. “The back end is very heavy at the moment. It was sliding around quite a lot on the track, so that is something else we will look at”, said George.
Although the first entry in the BTCC, the Civic is not the first LPG powered car to race in the UK. 1998 saw the Vectra challenge have a similar entry, with some encouraging results, despite not being eligible for championship points.
“It’s going to be very interesting at Thruxton!” grinned George. “I think we’re going to be a long way off the pace to start with but hopefully we will learn a lot very quickly.” The team had only received the car in its converted state four days prior to the Donington Park test.
Did you know?
- LPG is a clean fuel: it enables a reduction of 70 to 85% in CO emissions, 55% to 85% in unburned hydrocarbons and up to 80% in NOx emissions.
- LPG has an extremely low sulphur content.
- John George’s first saloon car race ended at the first corner of the first lap – a story that made page 3 of The Sun!
- John has competed in the Renault UK Clio Cup with Mardi Gras for the last three seasons.
- John’s own company JAG Communications is the team’s primary sponsor.