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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Sunday, October 21, 2007

UNSW: 21 October 2007: Race day 1

Apologies to those with very little time, but now we are on the race, the updates will be longer. Due in part to lots happening, but mostly to me sitting in a car for 7 hours a day.

In summary, Jason cheered us on at the start line, and then went home. Jaycar sent up their four best store managers at the start line to cheer us on, which was brilliant. We acquired a great observer called Winston, Simon and Smithy drove the solar car, we camped, ate well and slept well.

Now, in more detail...

Jason left us today, to head home, like a trooper he got up at 4:45 with the rest of us, and came to wave us on at the start line. It was great to have him around, and we're hoping he enjoyed himself. Congrats again for winning the competition!

By 5:15 this morning, our solar car was in it's start position at State Square in the centre of Darwin, with thirty-eight other solar car teams. Our qualifying lap meant we were starting at position 22. By 7.30 this morning, state square was packed with people to watch the start of the race.

We would like to give a huge thank you to Gary Johnston of Jaycar, who thought we could do with a cheer squad, and so sent up four of the best store managers to cheer us on at the start line. It was really really nice for all of us to meet them, and they were all so enthusiastic about us and the car, they helped to dispel the last minute nerves some of us were getting. So thank you to Gary, and to the four we met this morning. It was very much appreciated.

On the start line, one of the top teams had to pull out and start last due to electrical issues, and the team in front of us couldn't find their support cars in time, meaning that we left in position 20.

The morning's driver was Simon, who drove what was probably the hardest driving of the day if not the course, from Darwin to Katherine. Time wise, it is one of the longest stints, hilly and shady, which was fine for our solar car to drive, but difficult for us to overtake safely. Unfortunately we were stuck behind a team travelling at 50km/h as we approached the biggest hill of the race, and couldn't get up the speed we were hoping to. Our motor came close to overheating, so Simon had to pull up halfway up the hill. Ten minutes later we were on our way again. We had two more unscheduled stops that morning, to reset and re program our trackers, losing us a total of approximately half an hour driving.

Our first observer of the race was Winston, who as it turns out has organised the first South African Solar Car Challenge, which he is in the process of convincing us to attend (not a hard job). He is excellent company, good for a laugh, and has been filming us constantly, and keeping us on our best behaviour..

After work and dinner had been finished, three of us and Winston went to scout out if there were any teams ahead of us. While we didn't find any teams, we did find Larrimah's animal man, who in his collection had several salt water crocodiles (~9m long), a baby kangaroo who he'd rescued when it's mum was run over, and a couple of very friendly dogs, who were acting as it's mum.

Dinner was superrrb as usual, and everyone was in bed and sound asleep by 9.30pm.

After some discussion with the officials last night, and a Norwegian tourist this morning (who took his holidays especially so he could drive up and down and follow the race) we can conclude that we are placed somewhere between 12th and 20th. We will know more after the control stop at Dunmurra.

Our garage neighbours on either side, Umicore (Belgium), and TIGA (Japan) are currently placed first and second, which is great, since they were both really nice teams (and clearly have really good cars..)

For all the parents, everyone is healthy, fed, watered, slept, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Quick update: As of the Dunmurra control stop, we are placed
fourteenth overall.

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Jaycar Sunswift III at the start line!

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Our day 1 marker - Winston kindly let one of the team add decoration..