Qualifying day for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge at Hidden Valley Raceway didn't follow any script with an underdog team setting the fastest overall time, a Michelin Cruiser Class car coming in second fastest and many of the favorites struggling to set a competitive time at all.
Pole position goes to Australian TeamArrow, a Queensland based team associated with the Queensland University of Technology, who set a lap time 5 seconds clear of the entire field. Second in the Schneider Electric Challenger Class is Japanese team Kogakuin University Solar Vehicle Project with a close third place going to the Stanford team with Luminos.
Of the favorite teams, University of Michigan are fifth in the starting order with Nuna7 starting lucky 13th having set a time 33 seconds off the pace while Tokai Challenger starts 20th after spinning twice at the final corner leading onto the main straight. The 'official' reason given is sand on the track although only one other car spun at that corner, the Hochschule Bochum SolarCar Team who still qualified third in the Michelin Cruiser Class.
Of all the asymmetric cars (with the driver positioned in a side pod of the car) in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, Tokai Challenger is the only car with rear wheel steering which may have contributed to the car spinning each time it negotiated the final turn at Hidden Valley. We don't expect there are many hairpin corners along the 3,000 km route from Darwin to Adelaide so this may not be a good indicationn of likely race performance.
On pole for the Michelin Cruiser class, and second fastest time overall is Solar Team Eindhoven with their 4 seater Stella. University of Minnesota starts second with final turn spinners Hochschule Bochum SolarCar Team starting third.
UNSW Solar Racing Team with their Sunswift eVe two seater start forth with a qualifying time 26 seconds off the pace following some drama on their first attempt at a flying lap. Sunswift's eVe literally limped around the Hidden Valley track on it's first warm up lap and came straight back into the pits barely moving under it's own power. The problem turned out to be a seized front brake caliper that was only diagnosed after the team were forced to set a time before eVe could be repaired. The team has also been having persistent motor controller issues.
Pole position for the GoPro Adventure class, which includes quite a few older generation three wheeled solar cars that no longer qualify for the outright class, was set by SIKAT Solar Philippines with SIKAT II followed by Aurora Evolution and Team Solaris from the Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Words and thoughts are entirely my own.
Full results: Bridestone World Solar Challenge