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One day down…

Saturday, October 24th, 2009 by

They write rock songs about this, don’t they?
Cruising down a highway, blue skies, checking out the sights with a smile on your face.
Maybe there’s a sports car involved – red, of course!

As good a reason to stop as any!

I don’t think they write them quite like this, though. It’s the Global Green Challenge version, which includes a detailed verse about how your cruising vehicle is actually an 8-ton truck carrying a generator, and the sports car is the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

That said though, there’s plenty that’s the same. The sights are still amazing and the smiles are definitely real (and only get bigger as the Roadster overtakes the Kia, the Hyundai and both the Ford and Holden entries!).

The Roadster overtaking the postie bike being run on alcohol fuel
(The Roadster overtaking the postie bike being run on alcohol fuel)

We’ve just arrived in Katherine after a relatively easy drive from Darwin. Compared to some of the distances we’re expected to cover over the next few days, the 350-odd kilometres today is nothing! It was a great way to get started on the Challenge though, with both Emilis and Simon getting used to the feel of the vehicle and sorting out exactly what it’s capable of. And again, watching the car in action, we were reminded of one thing this car is definitely capable of: drawing a crowd. Cars on the highway were slowing down as they passed, waving, flashing cameras and even hanging out of the windows at one point!

Once we settle down a bit, we’ll fill you in on all the important details of the trip (the crew are off recharging the Roadster at the moment), but for now I can let you know that yes, we did manage this trip with just one charge and a quick stop for cool drinks at about halfway. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, with a few radio issues needing to be sorted out and – wait for it – the charger for the car blowing a fuse while we were still at the racetrack… but if it was all running to plan, where’s the fun in that? Seriously though, we’ve got a great crew on hand who were able to get all the vehicles to the starting line (and more importantly, the finish) in good shape.

– Jessica Citizen

On your marks… get set…

Saturday, October 24th, 2009 by
Hard at work in Darwin watching the time trials

Hard at work in Darwin watching the time trials

As Simon mentioned yesterday, we have a very big, very hot day ahead of us today. Right now, we’re at Hidden Valley Raceway, where two very important things are happening. Behind me, the solar cars are whizzing around the track, completing their time trials to determine their starting order.

At the same time, the Eco Challenge cars are going through some final checks and their CAMS scrutineering.

The Roadster (which maybe should be renamed Roaster, in this heat!) is also getting a final charge and a few last minute tweaks to ensure the smoothest journey back to Adelaide.

Once it’s fully charged, we’re off to a specific petrol station (the technical start of the race for recording purposes) before heading into the centre of Darwin for the official start of the Challenge at State Square atr lunchtime. The first stage of the journey is to cruise around an urban track that has been laid out on the streets of the city, while the second involves a slightly longer voyage – 300 or so kilometres south, to Katherine. At this point, all signs are pointing to us being able to do today’s trip on a single charge, which will be great!

As I write this (sitting in the cab of the truck carrying the generator), it is easy to see that everybody is interested in the Roadster. Teams from all over the world are taking a break from feverishly working on their cars to come over and check out the shiny red sports car that looks a fair bit different to everything else in the event.

teambelenos thepits teamtwente
(Solar cars go through their paces on the track – click to enlarge!)

Over the course of the event, Simon will still be updating the blog with his drivers-eye view of the race, and I’ll be adding a few extra bits and pieces from my somewhat more relaxed perspective – from the truck, which now has air conditioning!

— Jessica Citizen

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