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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oct 27 - 28 - 29

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

On Monday afternoon after putting a little charge in the batteries we solar forward from Mataranka.  As we drive, around 50km/h we discuss our options.  In 2009 the world solar challenge has been shortened by 2 days.  And if you are not one of the top ten teams it is actually shortened by 2 and a half days as solar cars are not allowed to proceed past port Augusta after 1100AM on Friday. A note the World Solar Challenge is staying on solar time and not Daylight saving time in S.A.  

This year the control stop times have also been shortened and teams must make controls stops to stay in the challenge.  This presents us with a dilemma.  We have to make the stops but we also need to solar.  We calculate how long it will take us to get to the next stop before it closes and we discuss the value of spending a long time in the trailer to get ahead on the race so we can get some solar time in.   

We are still solaring as we discuss the options.  There is reasonably strong head wind and this is making our going slow.   We decide to put the car in the trailer and  go ahead to control stop at Dunmarra 163 solar km today.  As we get closer to Dunmarra I see dust in the air and the head wind seems to be picking up.  I have thoughts of 2007 when dust filled the air and we crawled into Glendambo being pushed by the wing but with little visibility and no power from the sun. as we travel we also see many other cars who are thinking the same as us and they are all trailering to Glendambo.  A Truck driver travelling North, talks to us and tells us of a huge dust storm that he has driven through.  This might make our decision to trailer forward tomorrow easier.  We do our Control stop, say goodbye to our observer Colin and Pick up John, we have enough time to go ahead to Renner Springs to camp the night.  When we get here we discover that there are about eight teams here and all have done the maths that we need to be here to make the next stop at Tennant Creek.

Tuesday Morning,

It has been a windy night and the tent Morgan and I are in has blown over.  I suspect some sabotage as no when else's tent has blown over. 

We set up the arrays for a morning charge and tie them down.  The wind is strong  from the south and the dust is thick in the air.  We drive south as we have decided there is no point solaring because there is a huge head wind and the sun will struggle to penetrate the dust laden atmosphere.  We stop at Tennant Creek, drop off John and pick up David.  John has not done any solar kilometres with us but we have had some very interesting discussions about solar cars and his collection of fossil cars back in the UK.  We head to Alice, the air is beginning to clear but the head wind is still strong.   65 km from Alice we set down, the sky is now clear the wind has dropped and it's down hill into Alice.  The car goes well and apart for a ridiculously stupid over taking manoeuvre performed on us by a Japanese team the ride to Alice is smooth.

Navigating through Alice Springs is tricky, and we have a pretty good idea of the town lay out.  We make it even though there is a small error in the route notes.  I do pity teams that have limited English and those that have not been here before. I am sure there will be teams that get lost.

We pick up our new observer Lester, and say goodbye to David.

Our batteries are really low and we grab the last of the afternoon sun before we make camp at the caravan park we have visited twice before.  65 Solar Km for today.


We charge our car and let it charge till about 10:30am. I speak to the Clerk of Course and then ring the Event Director to see if we are able to miss more than one of the control stop so we can spend some more time on the road solaring accumulating precious solar kilometres.  He is sympathetic to my (and many other teams) plight but suggests we try to maximise our solaring opportunity within the rules of the challenge.  We then go and serve our remaining 12 minutes at the control stop before trailering to the top of a hill about 30k's out of Alice and then solar.  The car runs well and we get 187 km's for the day.  Again we have to make control stop so we have to trailer into Kulgera.  We get in at 12 to 5  there are five or six other times already here and three or four more roll in some after 5  some teams are distressed that they have missed control (some only by 2 minutes) and are effectively out of the race as this is the second stop they have missed. 

An hour or so later a Red Shirt calls a meeting with all team managers  at the camp and explains that event organisers have relaxed the rules a little to allow the many teams at this end of the field  to miss control stops and maximise solaring but we must be in Adelaide on Sat by 12 noon.


We charge till nine and with good sun last night our batteries approach half full.  We have a breeze at our tail and the sun is shinning. 9:00am off we go.  No we don't, a faulty brake switch prevents us from taking off.  In short the car goes well a total of 213km Pizza for dinner and a cool underground bed. 

809km for the challenge so far.

Friday our last day to solar lets see what we can do.

John Beattie
Leeming SHS Solar Car Team

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