09 Oct The Final Sprint
Hello again from the very-unofficial impromptu SSCP media team. Today was an extremely exciting day of racing, and tomorrow should be better still.
Stanford started the day like every race day so far – on top of their game, moving quickly, and generally running like a well oiled machine. Our car and race team is rapidly nearing 10,000 km of operation, so at this point things like getting the car down from the charging stand and ready to race are a 3-minute well-choreographed work of art. It looks very chaotic to the untrained eye, but trust me – it’s a beautiful sight to see our race team operating at this level.
Today was a very good day for our team. We made no mistakes, and drove at our fastest daily average speed our team may have ever recorded. This was enabled by an extremely powerful tailwind that has been blowing us straight down the Stuart Highway toward Adelaide – winds that have been blowing steadily at nearly 40km/h at times and gusting up to 100km/h.
The bright sunshine and stiff tailwind isn’t just helping us, though – it’s pushing our competitors along as well. That said, there are large differences in how every car handles the heavy winds, and due to the stability of our car and robustness of our shell, we managed to slowly reel in Solar Team Twente all day long.
We started the day nearly 45 minutes behind Twente, and finished the day just 7 minutes behind. They had some aerodynamic/mechanical problems before reaching the control stop in Glendambo – one of their very light but very thin and fragile rear fairings was damaged by the strong crosswind, so they removed it and drove 20km or more without that fairing. This was both time on the side of the road for their team and a large aerodynamic drag penalty, and this allowed us to gain quite a bit of ground. Our team is feeling extremely good right now about making the goal of spending zero time on the side of the road for problems of any sort one of our very highest priorities this cycle – it paid off in a big way today, by avoiding situations exactly of that nature even in very extreme conditions.
Tomorrow should be the most exciting day in all of Stanford Solar Car Project’s nearly 25 year history, as we race a tight race against an excellent team for the honor of a podium finish in the World Solar Challenge. Wish us luck.