The famous World Solar Challenge – a solar-powered car race across 3,000 miles of harsh Australian terrain – was won for the seventh time by the Netherlands’ Nuon Solar team, which crossed the official finish line at Victoria Square in Adelaide 37 hours, 10 minutes and 41 seconds after setting off in Darwin.
The team, from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, entered the lightest car in the contest, finishing ahead of the U.S.’s Michigan, which grabbed second-place with its torpedo-shaped ‘Novum’, while Punch Powertrain from Belgium recorded its best result since 2007 with a third-place finish.
The challenge began on October 8 with 42 cars powered only by the sun racing from Australia’s tropical north to its southern shores: a gruelling 3,000 km (1,864 mile) endurance test through the Outback. Competing cars typically reach speeds of up to 90 kph to 100 kph (55 mph to 62 mph).
Nuon took the lead early and never looked back. Nuon Team Manager, Sander Koot, said that the team adjusted its strategy and driving style to best handle the harsh weather conditions, which included wind gusts of up to 60 kilometres per hour. Jasper Hemmes, aerodynamics expert for the team, said the drivers were instructed to position the solar car in such a way as to profit from the winds, often as if they were operating a sailing ship.
In the cars of the future, Cruiser Class, fellow Dutch team Eindhoven is on track for its moment in the sun tomorrow – the team is expected to cross the finish line first, with a time target of between 11am and 2pm.