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.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Leeming Sungroper: Wednesday 21st: more of the same

No, really. Today is more of the same as we had the previous days. We're still scattered into about three different groups: track work, food shopping, and everything else. "Everything else" includes buying batteries, buying and fitting antennas, getting signage done, setting up computers, and making sure we have all our ducks in a row for scrutineering.

Scrutineering. The next few days will _not_ be more of the same. Thursday and Friday are scrutineering at the Darwin showgrounds. Paul, the chief scrutineer, stops by our pit and goes over the details with us. We've got to show that we meet all of the race's technical requirements (that our car is within the size limits, that our battery is within the weight limits, etc.) and also that we meet all the safety requirements: our drivers must have 10 hours of practice each, our drivers must be able to exit the vehicle unaided in under 30 seconds, our car must have adequate visibility, we must have an emergency cut-off accessible from outside the car, we must have safety vests, traffic cones, a red flag, etc.

There's a random draw later today to determine what car gets what timeslot for scrutineering. We might have only today to prepare, or we might have today, tomorrow, and half of the next day.

More driver training out on the track, more debugging of electronics.

The boards out of Sungroper 1 arrive at lunchtime. We swap bits to narrow down our problems. The problem with the Extra Sensor board is that the chip is dead. This despite us trying two different chips, one of which is known to work.

The problem with the the go-button-and-speed-knob panel is not the dash/connector board. This is something of a confidence booster for me: neither of our hard-to-find bugs is being caused by boards which I printed. OK, some of our previous problems have been my boards, but not _these_ problems.

Tony, a race assistant, comes by our pit and gives us the draw. We are first. There are 22 teams listed, 14 on Thursday and 8 on Friday, and we are stone-cold first.

There's an up-side to that, of course: if we have any problems, we get the maximum possible time to prepare for "re-presentation", at 16:00 on Thursday, and 13:00 onwards on Friday. That means that we'll effectively have three chances to get everything right.

More driver training. Most teams are on-site now, and the track is getting busy. At one point, I count 7 cars out on the track, including us. We have the honour of being passed by some of the fastest cars in the race, including Nuna. (Theoretically, there's no passing allowed out there, for safety reasons. But everybody is cooperative, and when we pull way over to the left on the straights most other teams get the idea and pass us.)

At the end of the day, we put the car back in its trailer (a trickier procedure than it was with Sungroper 1, because with Leeming Sungroper's stub axles, we cannot use a steering yoke), along with all the safety gear, and trailer it back to the Alatai. Since we have to be at the showgrounds at 8am, we don't want to have to stop by Hidden Valley and pick up the car on the way.

And then we go play laser tag. Two friends of mine, Craig and Emma, own and operate the Zone 3 here in Darwin. I and five or so other people arrive late, because we were still at the track, so I get to play in the second and third game. I shoot not quite four times as many people as shoot me in the second, but I don't manage as well in the third, because it's a game called "Vampire", which essentially means "everyone versus Doug". My "team" wins anyway.

Dinner is a barbie, with crisp and crunchy potato salad. Interesting.

-- Doug Burbidge