A familiar scenario is being played out between two champion teams in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. After nearly 2,800 kilometres just 20 minutes separates the two leading cars. It is almost a repeat performance of 2011 except on this occasion the order is reversed, with the Netherlands Nuon Solar team leading Team Tokai from Japan.
The flying Dutch team have maintained an average speed of around 93 kilometres an hour accelerating at some points today up to 113 km but the Japanese matched their pace, refusing to let the gap between the two teams widen. Unless the Japanese team has something more in reserve, Nuon in their solar car ‘Nuna 7’ look poised to take back the title they lost to Team Tokai in 2009 and again in 2011.
Both teams are camped south of Port Pirrie and are due to make their final run to the official finish line in Hindmarsh Square Adelaide, arriving mid-morning tomorrow.
Netherlands Team Twente with their ‘Red Engine’ is in third place some 240 kilometres behind the leaders with Stanford University from the USA hot on their heels in 4th just nine kilometres behind, 49 kilometres south of Woomera. Belgium’s Punch Powertrain is in 5th with Solar Energy Racers about 25 kilometres behind in 6th. Still flying the flag for Australia, team Arrow holds 7th position. Other teams still under solar power include Onda Solare from Italy, Blue Sky Solar from Canada and Australia’s UWS Solar team in SolAce.
Strong wind gusts today played havoc with some of the teams including the American solar champions Michigan, who were bumped to the side of the road coming into the Coober Pedy Control Stop. They are now frantically working on their solar car Generation hoping to resume tomorrow morning.
All Michelin Cruisers are now in Coober Pedy for their last mandatory overnight stop before they resume tomorrow morning for the final stage. It will be a battle between Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands in their four seater Stella; the German Hochschule Bochum’s Powercore SunCruiser and Australia’s UNSW Sunswift Team, in their solar sports car ‘eVe’ who flew into Coober Pedy today hours ahead of the field. Final judging of the Cruiser class will be held in Adelaide on Saturday, taking into account design, practicality and person kilometres travelled which could put Eindhoven in a strong position as they have the capacity to carry four passengers.
In the GoPro Adventure Class Australia’s Aurora arrived into Coober Pedy, their final overhead stop, ahead of the other contender still running on solar power, team Antakari from Chile.
The leaders are expected to reach ‘finish of timing’ in Angle Vale tomorrow morning before proceeding to the Official Finish Line at Hindmarsh Square. Even if a team is first to Angle Vale they must still reach the official finish line to claim victory.
The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge started October 6th in Darwin and finishes 3,000 km later tomorrow in Adelaide.
Disclosure: EV News has been engaged by the South Australian Motor Sport Board to help promote the World Solar Challenge 2013.