Canuck truck stuck in muck
EXCLUSIVE Team Blue Sky falls foul of 100 km/h hot wind
World Solar Challenge The car-sized box containing tools and equipment for Canadian team Blue Sky Solar Racing's entrant in the World Solar Challenge today fell off its trailer and flipped over in the middle of the remote Australian desert.
The Reg happened upon the scene not long after the accident, in which nobody was hurt, although team Blue Sky Solar's morale was sorely dented by the incident. That's entirely understandable: each World Solar Challenge team has one car to follow their entrant, another to precede it and a truck to carry their chattels and sometimes even the solar car. Losing access to the truck robs the team of spares and many comforts.
Team Blue Sky's spare parts box, upended in the desert
The cause of the accident is unclear, but it is felt today's 100 km/h winds caused the box to shift, in turn making the SUV towing it unstable. The box fell onto the tarmac and plenty of rubber on the road makes it possible to make an educated guess about what happened next: an unexpected swerve across the road, a violent correction and a sudden, scary halt.
Witnesses have told The Reg the box came to rest on the road, where it of course represented a threat to other traffic. Happily, a crane-equipped truck happened by and lifted it to the side of the road and out of harm's way.
As is visible in the pictures below, the trailer on which Blue Sky's box was towed sustained significant damage.
Team Blue Sky's trailer is in a mess
The incident took place around 50km south of Kulgera, a roadhouse located 20km north of the Northern Territory/South Australia border. The roadhouse there makes a decent steak sandwich and has fuel a-plenty, but The Reg saw no sign of the equipment needed to get a heavy wooden box back atop a trailer.
The mess inside Team Blue Sky's box
South Australian Police were on the scene, so The Reg trundled onwards with a clean conscience, but a heavy heart: today is a brute of a day in central Australia. The VultureMobile's in-car thermometer reports outside temperatures are over 40 degrees celsius and the hot wind that probably caused Blue Sky's problems are relentless.
South Australian Police Advise Team Blue Sky Solar
We later learned that the University of Calgary Solar Car Team happened upon the incident before The Reg and scooped up as much of Blue Sky's kit as was possible. That kind effort loaded down Calgary's team van to such an extent that when we found it 200km down the road in Marlowe Bore it's engine was overheating.
Team Blue Sky's remained by the roadside where they seemed set to endure a very, very, difficult afternoon, although the team's solar car remains in ninth.
The Reg will bring you news of their welfare as soon as it emerges.
At the head of the race, Dutch team Nuon has stretched its lead over Japanese rival Tokai to about 25 minutes. Fourth—placed Stanford is closing in on third-placed Twente in the battle for the last remaining podium position.
Michigan's quest to improve on three previous third places is over after it ran off the road in Coober Pedy, where it will stay overnight to effect repairs. ®