Dutch wins world so­lar car race in Aus­tralia

Manila Bulletin - - Shipping Bulletin -

ADE­LAIDE, Aus­tralia (AFP) – Dom­i­nant Dutch team ''Nuon'' Thurs­day won an epic 3,000-kilo­me­ter (1,860mile) so­lar car race across Aus­tralia's out­back for the third-straight year in an in­no­va­tive con­test show­cas­ing new ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy.

The World So­lar Chal­lenge, first run in 1987 and last held in 2015, be­gan in the north­ern city of Dar­win on Sun­day morn­ing with 41 com­pet­ing cars, with Ade­laide in South Aus­tralia state the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

Cheers and chants of ''Nuna'' roared from the large Dutch con­tin­gent as the ''Nuna 9'' car – trav­el­ling at an av­er­age speed of 81.2 kilo­me­ters per hour (55.5 mph) – crossed the fin­ish line midafter­noon.

''Wel­come to #Ade­laide @NuonSo­larTeam, win­ner of the @bridge­stone #BWSC17 Sch­nei­der Elec­tric Chal­lenger Class,'' race or­ga­niz­ers tweeted.

The US' Univer­sity of Michi­gan ''Novum'' was on track for sec­ond place ahead of Bel­gium's Punch Pow­er­train.

The event has be­come one of the world's fore­most in­no­va­tion chal­lenges with teams look­ing to demon­strate de­signs that could one day lead to com­mer­cially avail­able so­lar-pow­ered ve­hi­cles for pas­sen­gers.

Google co-founder Larry Page and Tesla co-founder J B Straubel are past com­peti­tors who credit the event in in­flu­enc­ing their ca­reers

The win is the sev­enth for Nuon, with their car over­com­ing cloudy skies as they took the lead early and stayed ahead in the elite Chal­lenger class, which fea­tures slick, sin­gle seat aero­dy­namic ve­hi­cles built for sus­tained en­durance and to­tal en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

The team's win­ning time was 37 hours, 10 min­utes and 41 sec­onds. When their team fin­ished first in 2015, it took them 33.03 hours.

Team man­ager San­der Koot said they changed their strat­egy and driv­ing style to cope with weather con­di­tions that in­cluded wind gusts of up to 60 kmh.

They also po­si­tioned the car so it could ben­e­fit from the windy con­di­tions like a sail­ing ship, the team's aero­dy­nam­ics ex­pert Jasper Hemmes told or­ga­niz­ers.

There is also a Cruiser class which aims to show­case so­lar tech­nol­ogy for main­stream ve­hi­cles that are more prac­ti­cal for day-to-day use.

An­other Dutch team, Eind­hoven, is on track to fin­ish Fri­day and win that class, with Ger­many's HS Bochum track­ing sec­ond.

The ve­hi­cles are pow­ered by the sun and mostly de­vel­oped by uni­ver­si­ties or cor­po­ra­tions, with teams hail­ing from Aus­tralia and across the world in­clud­ing the United States, Malaysia, In­dia and South Africa.

They are al­lowed to store a small amount of en­ergy but the ma­jor­ity of their power has to come from the sun and their ve­hi­cle's ki­netic forces.

The crews drove between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day with seven check­points along a route cut­ting through the heart of Aus­tralia's cen­tral desert re­gion, to get up­dates on their stand­ings, the weather, and do ba­sic main­te­nance.

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