Internode Blog

Congratulations, Tokai Challenger!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 by

The first solar car arrived in Adelaide this afternoon at 3:39pm local time – covering 2,998km since Sunday morning.

Team Tokai arrive in Adelaide to the adoring media

It’s a bit of a history-making event – not only are they the first team to ever win on Day 3, they are also the first Japanese team to win the event since 1993. In addition to that, the drivers included Kenjiro Shinozuka alongside Tokai University students and alumni – he was the first Japanese to achieve overall victory in the Paris to Dakar Rally!

By the way, after qualifying fourth, the Tokai race was nearly flawless, with the only reported “issue” a flat tyre, which happened this morning at a rail overpass in Crystal Brook.

tokaichallenger…this victory also breaks a four-event winning streak from Team Nuon, who took home the gold in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. This year’s Team Nuon entry, Nuna V, is currently tied for second place with Michigan University’s Infinium, with both cars arriving simultaneously at Port Augusta at 3:30pm SA time this afternoon – it’s a very tight competition between those two!

The fourth solar car is actually not the one in fourth place overall: it’s actually OSU Model S, the team from Osaka. They’re entered in the Adventure Class, which has slightly different specifications to the Challenge class that Tokai, Michigan and Nuon are competing in.

21Revolution, from Solar Team Twente (our Dutch friends) are currently somewhere near the SA/NT border in 9th place, following an accident 90km from Alice Springs.

Australian favourite Aurora 101 has suitably recovered from their issues earlier, and are currently in 8th place, having checked in at Coober Pedy late this afternoon.

We, on the other hand, checked out of Coober Pedy this morning and are now settling into our final hotel for the trip, in lovely Port Augusta. Nearly home – we return victorious to Adelaide tomorrow afternoon!

– Jessica Citizen

…but what about the other cars?

Monday, October 26th, 2009 by

Well, the solar cars kicked off their run yesterday (Sunday, a day after we did), and we’re expecting to see a few of them zipping past us today because they’re really rocketing along!

At the end of the first day of competing, the Japanese entry #60 Tokai Challenger is in the lead, followed by #2 Infinium, from the University of Michigan. Both Dutch entries are currently in third and fourth: #3 Nuna V (Nuon Solar Team – who started out as the favourites for this race), and #21 21Revolution (Solar Team Twente, who you might remember are now, with a little help from a certain friendly Australian ISP!).

Each of those four teams made it to the second checkpoint in Dunmarra by the 5pm end-of-race last night – some 633km from their 8am starting point in Darwin.

Thirty-one solar vehicles started the race, with the vast majority making it to the first checkpoint, recording a distance of 318km on their first day.

Unfortunately, there were a few disappointed teams – the Australian Aurora 101, based in Victoria and the fastest at the time trials (setting an average 91.83kph at Hidden Valley on Saturday morning) is reported to have spun after leaving Darwin, suffering suspension damage.

Adding insult to injury, Aurora Vehicle Association’s other car, the #99 Southern Aurora (travelling in a different class to the 101) struck electrical issues, meaning it did not reach the first checkpoint either.

Both of these cars were then taken to Katherine for repairs, and will start the day fresh today at the same place they were stranded.

The Belgian entry, #8 Umicar Inspire wasn’t so lucky, crashing 380km out of Darwin at around 1pm Sunday afternoon. According to reports, the driver lost control of the vehicle after a gust of wind hit the car. While no injuries were reported, the car has been officially withdrawn from the event.

From what I hear, the Eco Challenge cars are all travelling pretty nicely (yes, including the Postie bike, which keeps popping up at roadhouses), and I should have some numbers from them very soon.

Right now though, I’ve just been given the hurry-up – time to leave Tennant Creek and head off for Alice Springs, with one stop in Ti Tree. Looks like another long day stretching ahead of us!

Jessica Citizen