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From Letterkenny to Paris on just one tank of fuel

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Paul Doherty, Denis Ferry and Leslie O’Donnell at the Eiffel Tower.

THEY have driven on some of the most dangerous roads in the world, in all weathers, but Donegal’s Ice Road Trekkers returned this week from one of their most impressive missions to date. The adventurous trio of Leslie O’Donnell, Dennis Ferry and photographer Paul Doherty left Letterkenny on Friday evening, arriving in Paris less than 24 hours later. However what’s more impressive is that they managed to travel the 957km distance on just one tank of fuel.

Speaking to the Donegal News, Mr O’Donnell explained the adventure came about after they were asked by Brendan Kelly of Kelly’s Toyota to see how far they could get in the new Hybrid Toyota Prius with just one fill of petrol. One ferry trip across the Irish Sea and a cross channel train journey and the Trekkers made it to the Eiffel Tower with 12km left on the clock on Saturday evening.

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“We had 43 litres of fuel in the tank and the idea was to get as far as we could. From Letterkenny on Friday we went to Belfast where we took the ferry to Liverpool before driving 500km to Dover to get the channel tunnel to Paris.” He explained that tank was sealed at Letterkenny before they left, and not wanting to be stranded on a roadside, the team brought an empty petrol can which was filled up at the first service station they came across in Paris.

“We brought it just in case, but we didn’t need to use it at all. We arrived on the outskirts of Paris at 7.15pm on Saturday with 21km left on the clock, two hours later we were still sitting in traffic and we only lost 7km on the amount of fuel that we had.”
He explained they had taken the car on a few trial runs around Donegal in recent weeks to gauge what sort of mileage they could achieve.

63.5 miles to the gallon
“The car definitely performs better in an urban setting, we got about 3.9 litres for 100km which works out about 78 miles to the gallon. However, on the trip to Paris we averaged around 63.5 miles to the gallon and that’s because we were doing a lot of motorway driving. However, whichever way you look at it, it’s still very impressive as most petrol cars would only give you 40 miles to the gallon.”

A well-known local mechanic, Mr O’Donnell said he was blown away by the capabilities of the Toyota Prius. “The technology is something else. The onboard computer provides you with so much information. The return journey used slightly more fuel but only because the Donegal Roaders took two detours. The first was to the small village of Authuille close to the battlefields of the Somme where many young Irishmen lost their lives in 1916, including Private William McBride who served with the Inniskilling Fusiliers and lost his life on April 22, 1916. He was later remembered in the song the Green Fields of France.

The trio then crossed back over the channel and diverted through London, where the Prius’s low carbon footprint meant there was no payment of £11.50 by way of the controversial ‘congestion charge’. Mr O’Donnell added: “I think that the petrol hybrid is going to be the car of the future. A lot of electric cars have to be plugged in but not the Prius. The technology is really amazing, for example, every time you put your foot on the brake, the battery is charging.”

He concluded: “We had great fun on the trip and Kellys and Toyota are delighted with how well it went.”

Kelly’s Toyota will be holding a Hybrid open day on Saturday, April 1.

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