Wheels literally FALL OFF solar race contender
Dutch dominate with 800km daily drive
World Solar Challenge If you doubt for a moment that central Australia is currently mad for solar energy, know that at the Hilton Hotel in Alice Springs a board offers information on the current temperature, wind speed and strength of sunlight expressed as watts per square metre*.
Vulture South made it to the Hilton after sundown, so can't report on recent readings, but can suggest that there were watts-a-plenty out there today as the leading cars managed to advance around 800km on a day so hot local radio outlets described it as “stinking”.
The day's racing featured two control stops, each of which require a 30-minute pause, and a 10km stretch of 50kmph speed limits through the central Australian city of Alice Springs. As competitors can only run between 08.00 and 17.00, we surmise the leaders averaged over 100kmph when on the open road.
While the leaders speed along, the weather and pace have both been unkind to others: just 17 of the 38 starters remain in the race. Others have “trailered” their solar vehicles, a peculiar verb that denotes the racer having been moved under another car's power for a time but continues the journey to Adelaide using only solar power. Others have withdrawn entirely.
Trailering an entry doesn't mean the danger is past: Istanbul Technical University today suffered the indignity of a support vehicle catching fire. Whether the team can find and ready another support truck in time will test the resources of the central Australian city of Alice Springs, where many entries are spending the night.
Japan's Goko High School also has a busy night ahead of it after its rear wheels fell off – literally.
Another Japanese entry, Tokai University, is doing rather better in second place but is struggling to catch the Dutch Nuon Solar Team from Delft University. That team's Nuna 7 is spending the night in the Australia desert, some 70km north of famed opal mining town Coober Pedy. Tokai and Nuon are 120km ahead of third-placed Twente. Curmudgeonly Michigan, which had hoped for a breakthrough win after three consecutive third placings, is in sixth place.
While this action has been going on, The Reg's two race-following operatives have also met local aboriginal communities and inquired about how they are using the internet and if it makes a difference. Suffice to say we'll be explaining WAN optimisation to them soon, of which more later. ®
* Don't worry, boss. We're not staying there. Just eating. Modestly.
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