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World Solar Challenge Fancied teams have been shaded by dark horse entries at the time trial prologue to the 2013 World Solar Challenge.

Professor John Storey, the event's Chief Scientist, told The Reg the USA's University of Michigan, Japan's Tokai University, Italy's Onda Solare and Sweden's Jönköping University as teams to watch. Yet None featured prominently in the one-lap time trial conducted at Darwin's Hidden Valley raceway, a venue also used for more conventional motor sports, the time trial sees each competitor complete a flying lap of the 2.4km track.

Australian Team Arrow was the provisional winner of the event, having zipped around the track in 2:00.1 minutes. The result “came as a surprise” according to team members from the Queensland-based outfit, as Australia's “sunshine state” has not entered the Challenge since 1999. A mixture of students, hobbyists and veterans of that 1999 effort have created a new car in the Challenger class, the toughest level of competition

Pit lane at Hidden Valley was full of talk about some cars being set up as track racers, rather than being readied for the 3000km haul to Adelaide. Team Arrow wasn't the subject of a lot of such chatter, or indeed much chatter at all given its dark horse status. The team is confident it will make the distance.

Solar Team Eindhoven's entry Stella turned plenty of heads by finishing second in a provisional 02:05.01, a remarkable feat given it competes in the more lowly-specced Cruiser class. Cruisers are permitted two engines, which helped to propel the vehicle to 135 km/h down Hidden Valley's straight. Team representatives said the extra engine and extra weight needed to make a four-seater helps by improving cornering and down force.

The weight's not all from ballast – plenty of cars have bags of dirt in odd places – but instead comes from features like the four seats, a music system with line-in and a USB charger. Already street-legal in the Netherlands, the team told The Reg it expects to do a weekly shopping run when it returns home.

Team representatives also said their calculations suggest that even in The Netherlands' wan northern European light, only in the months of December and January would it need power from the grid to charge its batteries. Averaged over a year, we were told, the car would collect enough energy to satisfy an average family's motoring needs with some electricity left over to feed into the grid. ®

Full Coverage:

So you want to be a solar racer? You'll need a laptop and some string

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Nuon on the brink of another World Solar Challenge win

Australian teams burn up the road on solar car race

Wheels literally FALL OFF solar race contender

Nuon, Tokai maintain six-race rivalry

Dutch oven overcooked in World Solar Challenge

Wacky racers – The Reg's guide to 2013's Solar Challengers

Cambridge withdraws from World Solar Challenge

Unknown Aussie and Dutch family car spring solar surprise

Sun-seeking Cambridge boffins chase Solar Challenge car crown

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