Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

Note that links in blog entries are not maintained, so while a link may be verified to work on the day of publishing, this is not guaranteed beyond that day.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Soleon: September 25th - Late Night near Larrimah, Northern Territory

We officially have a second race start under our belt! It was an early morning, with the all cars having to report to the race start by 6 am to prepare for the 8am start. The crowd was a moderate size, enough to feel important, but not enough to appear crowded.

Although initially the day seemed promising, Soleon began losing power within the first two hours of racing. The problem was sourced to the motor controller, which was replaced with a time cost of only 20 minutes.

At the first control point stop in Katherine, our telemetry data showed that about one quarter of our solar panels were not functioning. Ryan, our electrical manager, investigated the problem, tracing it to a faulty connection, and repaired it with only a five minute price tag.

After a quick driver change, Soleon left the control stop with a fully operational array. At approximately kilometer 360, Soleon began losing power again. After a little verbal troubleshooting, Ryan and Colby decided that the motor controller was overheating. The high ambient temperature (roughly 35 degrees) and low airflow in the car were felt to be contributing factors. To increase air flow, the wheel well covers were removed and after a short stop at the side of the road to allow the controller to cool, Soleon was again off and rolling. Thankfully, no more problems were encountered for the rest of the day and Team Soleon was able to log almost 500 kilometers.

Garett and I caught up with the rest of the team about 10 minutes after they stopped for the day and we took our first stab at campervan living. We managed to prepare a nice dinner, but with no hook-ups for the air conditioning, and 10-12 people sandwiched inside, the camper felt more like a sweat lodge. The alternative was to stand outside, which meant risking your sanity combating flies.

After dinner, the team settled into their various dwellings, some in tents, others in cars, and a few in the camper. After some discussion, we drove the camper 5 minutes further down the race route and found a campsite with hook-ups, which provided a slightly more comfortable living environment. This environment was briefly interrupted when Garett removed his shoes and socks for the night. After enduring a number of complaints, he agreed to visit the shower facilities to wash his odorous feet. As he exited the camper he found that we had attracted a group of donkeys, he surprised about 8 of them as he opened the door. Startled, the donkeys quickly ran off to the highway, where Garett pursued them in hopes of saving some money on the food budget. Fortunately for the donkeys, his hunting skills leave a little to be desired, so in short, we?ll be sticking with the chicken and beef stocked in our fridge.

We plan to make it at least another 500km tomorrow, hopefully more. We would all love to camp at the stunning camp area nestled in the Devil?s Marbles, but unfortunately we?re just under 500km from that site so we will, in all likelihood, be making another sacrifice in the pursuit of solar car success. Regardless of where we land, tomorrow?s start is approaching fast?so until tomorrow, good night!

Aussie phrase of the day: Why ya so buggered? Translation: Why are you in such a bad mood?

Laurie Heilman Bell Communications Manager/Nutritional Advisor University of Calgary Team Soleon