The 2013 World Solar Challenge ended in Adelaide today – with the fastest car completing the 3000km road trip from Darwin in just 33 hours and five minutes.
Team Nuon from Delft University in Holland was pushed all the way by reigning two-time champions Team Tokai from Japan.
Cloud and rain greeted the solar cars on the arrival into Adelaide. It was Team Tokai who came off worst when they ran out of power on the final approach. They had to pull over about 60 kilometres from the finish and take what charge they could get from the grey skies.
The 2013 event will be a bad memory for some of the other teams – not just the British entry, forced to pull out before the race even started.
The American solar champions from University of Michigan were blown sideways by winds touching 80mph heading into Coober Pedy, damaging their car and putting them out of a top five finish.
Car Couture will be back to normal tomorrow – with a week-long UK road test of the Subaru Forester…
Today I had my first opportunity to see the 40 cars entered in this Sunday’s World Solar Challenge. It’s 35C in Darwin and there’s no shortage of sun – although it wasn’t a good session on the test track for our British team, Cambridge University Eco Racing.
Their unorthodox, slimline design was being touted as a potential contender in the 3000km race down to Adelaide, powered only by the rays of the sun. But after a crash on public roads earlier in the week, the UK’s only entry in the race rolled over during an early morning track session.
The ultra-light, teardrop-shaped car was damaged and taken away for repair. However, organisers say there are now genuine safety concerns over the stability of the vehicle. Will it be on the start line this Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.
Earlier I enjoyed a more stable and entertaining ride in the remarkable Stella car, built by Dutch students. Capable of carrying four people, it’s the closest you will get to a conventional car in this technology packed event.
The Dutch machine built by students from Eindhoven University of Technology, can travel 420 miles on a sunny day and creates twice as much energy as it uses!
You know it’s going to be an interesting week when the pilot comes on the intercom to tell you that the runway lights have failed. He doesn’t wish to alarm us but it’s the first time this has happened in his 25 year flying career…
Darwin is Australia’s northern-most capital city – and that means just getting here can be a challenge. More than 60 nationalities make up the population of 100,000 and the city has been flattened twice – once by the Japanese in World War Two and then by Cyclone Tracey in 1974.
According to The Rough Guide, ‘it’s now a hip city to visit, rather than the just the end of the road for lost souls’.”
It’s also the start of the road for the 40 teams taking part in the 2013 World Solar Challenge. I arrived at the hotel in the early hours of this morning with a nicotine-addicted taxi driver. Little did he know that he was churning out more emissions that these machines will produce during the entire 3000km trip to Adelaide.
I’m here covering the race for the Sunday Times, Metro London and CAR magazine. Over the next few days I’ll be posting as much as I can on the build up to this quirky event, wi-fi and jet lag allowing….