With just 17 days to go before 43 teams from 24 countries take to the start line in Darwin on October 6 to contest the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 3,000 kilometre quest across Australia; one team is already putting its revolutionary 4 seater solar family car, Stella, through its paces in Darwin.
First time entrants in the inaugural Michelin Cruiser Class, Solar Team Eindhoven of Eindhoven University of Technology from the Netherlands are hoping their pre-race road testing in Darwin will pay dividends across the Aussie outback. Purpose built for this year’s event ‘Stella’ is the first ‘energy-positive car’ with room for four people, a trunk, intuitive steering and a range of 600 kilometers.
Competition in the Michelin Cruiser Class is not about finishing first across the line. It is about taking the technology to the mainstream and developing a car for the future Competitors will be judged on energy use and efficiency; how many people they’ve carried and over what distance and the potential of the design and practicality to appeal to the mainstream motoring market. ‘Stella’ will have her work cut out for her with competition from the German Bochum team, whose former car, the ‘BoCruiser’ inspired the category; Australian teams from Uni NSW and TAFE SA; and teams from Japan, Taiwan, USA, Canada and New Zealand.
Teams in the Elite Challenger Class are also well prepared. An unprecedented number of crews arrived in Australia early including America’s most successful solar team, University of Michigan who have yet to post a win here. They’ve been venturing out on test runs, and have even organised a ‘mock race’ to simulate the real Challenge in every way possible.
The Dutch Nuon Solar team from Delft University, believes their car, Nuna 7 can deliver their fifth World Solar Challenge from seven attempts. Until recent challenges they dominated, winning in 2001, 2003, 2005 & 2007. Their excellent record was thwarted in 2009 and again in 2011 by the impressively slick Japanese Tokai University team. Team Tokai are here to win and will not give up the title without a fight. Others to watch include Team Twente with their car, Red Engine, and Stanford University, who hope their car, Luminos, will live up to its name and be a leading light.
This year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is held from 6th – 13th October. If you can’t make it to Darwin or Adelaide, you can follow the race on Twitter via @tsport100 or @WorldSolarChlg.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.