Monday, October 26th, 2009 by Guest Blogger
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 on.net, 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 While no injuries were reported, the car has been officially withdrawn from the event.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!
Monday, October 26th, 2009 by Guest Blogger
Today (or should I say yesterday?) has been – in a word – long. In two words? Very long. As Simon mentioned, it’s nearly 700km between Katherine and Tennant Creek, which means it’s long enough to have to stop and recharge not once, but twice. That’s on top of the early start, which saw us leave Katherine just over an hour before the more conventional cars in the Challenge.
First stop of the day was at Daly Springs, at 10am. We parked the truck in the shade, set up the generator and plugged everything in before heading into the roadhouse to tuck into some well-deserved bacon and eggs. It’s about a third of the way into the trip, 270km out of Katherine (and if you’re ever out here, may I recommend the NT Barra Burger at the Hi-Way Inn on the Stuart Highway – yum!).
Then, after recharging the Roadster (and ourselves), we headed off to Renner Springs, which was one of my favourite stops on the trip up to Darwin a week ago. This was more than 200km (and four hours) from Daly Waters, and meant firing up the generator again, tucking into some more roadhouse food and chatting to the locals.
Quite predictably, everybody we pass is still very interested in the Roadster, and it’s lead to a few interesting conversations. Many people are intrigued and curious about what we’re doing – and I have to mention the gentleman who stopped his grader for lunch in Daly Waters. He looked at the Roadster and asked me if that was the car he’d “seen in the papers”. When I confirmed that it was, he then told me all about it, and the challenge, and asked how we were going on our way to Adelaide. (I didn’t catch his name, but he was travelling with Chloe, who you can see to the right there – one of several very cute puppies we encountered today. Hi, if you’re reading this!).
Once the Roadster was charged up again (about two hours, this time), we set off for Tennant Creek as quickly as our little legs could carry us – it was starting to get dark in the desert! While that made the scenery pretty darn spectacular, night driving really wasn’t something we wanted to do too much of. Fortunately, we got to our hotel before more than a handful of stars had lit up the sky, and have spent the last few hours plotting and re-plotting stops for tomorrow’s trip to Alice Springs, as well as – you guessed it – recharging the Roadster.