By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, Oct 21: It was a tense moment as the finalists in the recent Proton 1 Tank Adventure challenge headed to their final checkpoint.
The fuel indicator in every car revealed that their respective fuel tanks were empty.
The nerve-racking question: could they make it to the finishing line?
Recently, Malaysia car manufacturer Proton Holdings Berhad (Proton) organised a Proton 1 Tank Adventure challenge featuring their 2019 Proton Iriz, Proton Pesona and Proton Saga car models.
The aim was to show Proton car owners that they could replicate fuel economy benchmarks as achieved in the adventure challenge.
A total of 36 finalists in 18 cars participated in the grand finals held at Kota Bahru, Kelantan from October 5 to 6.
The finalists comprised winners in the media and Proton owner categories from earlier legs held in West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
In the grand finals, the participants were required to drive from the Proton Kota Bharu showroom in Kelantan to the Jalan Indah Petronas station in Johor Bahru.
The distance from Kota Bharu to Johor Bahru via Kuantan and Mersing is 710 kilometres.
That wasn’t all. Besides the driving challenges, participants were also tested on their knowledge of Proton’s new models or given the chance to sample local traditional dishes during short breaks at designated checkpoints.
Winners of these challenges were given prizes.
But these thoughts were furthest away from our minds as my team partner and See Hua Daily News journalist, Voon Siang Pin and I strategised the best way to achieve our objectives.
Then, about an hour away from our final checkpoint, Voon pointed out that our fuel tank was empty.
Voon, who is also an off-road four-wheel-drive truck enthusiast, was commandeering the steering wheel of the 2019 Proton Pesona both of us were riding in.
Between the two of us, he was the better choice of driver as he had experience participating in various motor vehicle challenges.
However, Voon confessed that he never driven on an empty fuel tank in any motor challenge that he has participated in before.
Nevertheless, we remained calm, determined to enjoy the ride as we wanted to complete the journey.
Voon said that the worse case scenario is that we would be forced to end the challenge prematurely and wait for assistance.
Adhering to earlier given instructions, we made sure we were travelling between 70 kilometres to 75 kilometres an hour.
To motivate ourselves to reach the finishing line, we treated ourselves with the sweets and biscuits provided by Proton.
Our sense of urgency turned into sweet relief when the petrol station marking the final checkpoint of the challenge finally came into view.
The sheer tension Voon and I felt earlier was almost totally gone as the Proton personnel welcomed and congratulated us. Our team then proceeded to get our fuel consumption measured as part of completing the challenge.
It’s safe to say that we weren’t the only ones who had our hearts in our mouths as we were completing the last leg of getting to the final checkpoint.
To our pleasant surprise, our car came in third overall in the 2019 Proton Pesona for the media category, consuming a thrifty 5.6 litres of fuel per 100km.
The result was much better than our team’s average of 6.35 litres of fuel per 100km clocked during or earlier challenge in Kuching.
In the end, we achieved what we set out to do, which was to test the fuel limit and achieve the objective of the Proton 1 Tank Adventure.
It was definitely a unique experience. In the future, if the finalists were to cross paths again, our shared experiences and tales of our adventure taking part in the Proton 1 Tank Adventure challenge will rekindle memories and renew the bonds between us.
Despite not winning overall in our category, Voon and I concluded that winning was not everything. What was most important to us was to see ourselves crossing the finishing line with the engine still running despite an empty fuel tank, and that we managed it over 710km journey.
Personally, it was a bonus just to take in the scenic view of the Peninsular Malaysia east coast again, to make new friends and to sample local and traditional dishes and delicacies. Ultimately, the adventure taught us on how to handle our car and how to manage our fuel efficiency.
Proton Chief Executive Officer, Dr Li Chunrong lauded the competence and enthusiasm of the participants in the final challenge.
“Proton is on track to achieve better sales and to be at the top of the sedan market in the country,” he said in his speech before the prize-giving ceremony.
Li acknowledged the positive response to Proton’s products.
He wants to create a corporate environment that fostered close working relationships between staff and management and stressed the importance of a culture of esprit de corps in their organisation.
Li revealed that Proton intends to enhance customer services by opening more 3S and 4S centres nationwide.
He promised that Proton will continue to develop and make better, more reliable and affordable products for its end-users.
“Ultimately, Proton wants to sustain its market position and share in the automotive industry in Malaysia,” he concluded.
Below is the full fuel consumption results for every car category in the recent Proton 1 Tank Adventure challenge finals:
Iriz (Public Participants)
Persona (Public Participants)
Saga (Public Participants)