14 Oct World Solar Challenge 2017
We made it! After six and a half harrowing days in a race with some of the worst weather in World Solar Challenge history, we have crossed the continent and made a successful top-ten finish.
We started out strong, sticking with the front of the pack throughout the first day of racing, but then a series of flat tires caused us to drop back. Falling behind at the point almost did us in as a storm caught us for the next three days: those ahead of us got out in front of it, and those behind us were able to drive slowly in the sun behind it, while we had no choice but to drain our battery as we limped along with thick cloud cover overhead through most of the Northern Territory.
Nearing Alice Springs we almost gave up, making the hard decision to trailer the car to meet time requirements, when we learned the midrace control stop had been extended. With no power in our pack and very little power coming from the sun we drove slowly through the storm, doubting we’d be able to make it even with the extension. But then our luck turned around, the lightning and clouds rolled past, a rainbow bent across the sky, and the sun came out!
By that point almost half the teams had dropped from Challenger class to the noncompetitive Adventure class and we were dead last of those still in the race. But with the sun above us and a reliable car to drive we sped up and crept forward through the competition, finishing strong in ninth place.
Bad luck almost knocked us out of the race and good luck helped propel us back into the top ten, but it wasn’t luck that saw us with a car that can drive solidly for thousands of kilometers and a solar array that can eek out power from cloudy skies. Our team worked incredibly hard on this ambitious, beautiful car, and could not be more proud of the performance it achieved.