Apart from giant mosquitoes and the five deadliest snakes in Australia, wandering kangaroos create a very real road danger here. They are most active at sunset – the main reason why all teams have to stop at 5pm every day, camping at the roadside until daybreak, when the race begins again.
So by the time I pull in at Katherine, I’m more than happy to relinquish my driving duties. My helmet is dripping and I have to be helped from the seat. It’s so hot that my watch strap has disintegrated in the heat.
The World Solar Challenge may lack the high-octane whiff of Formula 1 but it’s just as much of a spectacle. The organisers would love to hold a long-distance event in Europe too, but there’s just one problem: not enough sun.
Team Arrow eventually finished the Cruiser Class race in third position, averaging 41.6mph over six days. Class honours went to Team Eindhoven, with German team Bochum runners-up.
The World Solar Challenge travels 1850 miles from Darwin to Adelaide down the Stuart Highway. There are nine checkpoints – and only one right turn…
Arrow STF (Sports Touring Framework)
Price £148,000 (est) Top speed 92mph (est) 0-60mph 7.0sec (est) Range Up to 248 miles (at cruising speed) Motors Twin motors and 7.5kWh lithium ion battery packs
Dutch team Nuon won this year’s World Solar Challenge for the third time in a row. Nuna 9 made it to Adelaide in 37 hours and 10 minutes – despite appalling weather on the last few days. The lightweight Challenger Class machine tipped the scales at just 135kg. It featured a relatively small solar panel of just 2.6sq m, with a highly efficient in-wheel motor and a 20kg lithium ion battery with a capacity of 5.1kWh. Nuna 9 is the smallest car the team has built, measuring 4.5m long, 1.75m wide and a mere 1.12m high. With a rolling resistance 10 times less than an average car, the drag efficiency is the same as a door mirror…
HEARTBREAK FOR ALL-FEMALE BRITISH SQUAD
A British team at the cutting edge of solar technology crashed its vehicle in Australia just days before the start of the race.
Cambridge University Eco Racing worked for two years preparing its £500,000 vehicle for the World Solar Challenge.
Twenty members of the 60-strong team had spent a month in the outback fine-tuning Mirage. The all-female line-up of drivers were on a private test track near Alice Spring when the car went out of control and crashed into a barrier.
“Everybody was completely shocked,” said team spokesman Dan Browne. “We ran to get the driver out but the car was a mess. The emergency services were there very quickly but she broke her foot in the accident.”
Mirage was narrower than most entries in the race – although the team says it doesn’t know what caused the stability problem.
It’s the second time the team has travelled to Australia and not made the start line. In 2013, Resolution rolled and skidded during trials.
The only British entry in this year’s event was Durham University Electric Motorsport, who took part in the Adventure Class and made the finish.