What could best be described as the height of this year’s Nigeria Auto Journalist Annual Training workshop held over the weekend was real practical motoring. But, as reported by ROTIMI ASHER, who participated in the two-day programme, most exciting session happens to be a head-to-head contest between Ford Ranger and Ford Figo, competing for stopping distance from a motion of 60km/hour.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was day 2 of the programme. Location had shifted from Nero Hotel, along Lekki-Epe Expressway to the headquarters of Coscharis Motors, about 20-minutes drive from the hotel.
Not long after the auto journalists’ arrival, it started pouring down. By the time the South African Trainer, Derek Kirkby arrived, as if waiting for his arrival, the rain stopped, sky looking bright. And real action began. Oh no! First of all, there was a 30-minute talk on pre-driving exercise, touching on ABS (Assistance Breaking System), seat belt, airbags and other relevant safety features.
Then we relocated to the Coscharis test track, where a Ford Figo, Ranger and Focus were ready to show off their ability to break and stop from high speed, call it stopping distance measurement, which, coincidentally, was main lesson the trainer wanted auto journalists to take home.
Participants grouped. Drivers selected. And each car was driven in turns. First tested was a Ford Focus, which gave different stopping distance results each of the two times it was tested. That was followed by Figo and Ranger.
At the tail end, the Figo took a bold step, challenging its big brother, Ford Ranger.
It was as if the ancient Greek City state Olympic was about to hold. To Derek, the trainer and Engineer Kunle Shonaike, who both understood what was being aimed at, the exercise was simple. But to majority of auto journalists present, it was like warming up for another form of auto racing. I wondered in my heart: “This will be interesting; it’s like race between a rough, elderly personality and an innocent, gentle teenager.”
What was being driven at? With Engineer Shonaike aboard the Ranger and Kirkby behind the driving wheel of the hatchback Figo, the two cars cruised gently towards the extreme end of the test track. All eyes were on the road, which is not wide enough to comfortably take two big cars. But then, while the thought analysis was ongoing, the two cars appeared from a distance, competing side by side at a speed of about 60km/hour. It was fun to watch. It was heartening to know that ABS would assist the two cars to stop eventually. But which one would stop first? That was the real deal.
By the first Ford flag, both drivers slammed their brakes from that top speed of 60km/hour. While the Ranger dragged forward and stopped within less than two metres, the little Ford Figo ice-skated through and did not stop finally until after about 6 metres.
Competition over, according to the trainer, what the result proved is that stopping distance of a car on motion depends on a number of factors, which include weight. And in the case of the cars tested, while the Ford Ranger weighs 1968kg, the little Figo weighs 1510kg, which explains why the Ranger recorded shorter stopping distance, compared with the Figo.
The DSFL event concluded on Saturday presented an opportunity for auto journalists to key in to the programme, which was launched 2003 in the United States and adapted to suit local conditions in many global markets. DSFL is a free advanced driving skill programme to improve the defensive driving ability of experienced drivers.