Simulating the BWSC

The Team’s Authentic Pre-Run

Off we go into our last weekend of preparations. With the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge happening next Sunday, the ultimate trial for our SolarCar team is only one week away. Now the only thing for us to worry about is getting as much practice as we can before the big day. All of this in mind, our team is ready to take on Gunn Point Road once again and this time stay here all weekend. The thyssenkrupp SunRiser ends up spending two whole days driving up and down this stretch of road.

Last time we came here, our goal was to simulate a single day of racing. Now we’d like to try our hand at imitating a whole third of the entire BWSC, namely the 1200-kilometer-long part of the way which prompted so many modifications to our car in the first place. All the while we make sure to recreate everything accurately, including all distances between the checkpoints situated along the way. At five in the afternoon the tkSR stops driving so the team can be on their way to this night’s rest spot, just like it would do during the race.

Staying the night is another thing we’re testing this time, so our team may experience at least one night of camping in the Outback before the race. It goes without saying that we willingly abstain from everyday amenities like running water and electricity, all of which will also be absent while crossing the continent. One teacher at the school hosting our workshop already befriended the team, and generously offered for us to stay the night on his property near Gunn Point Road. The enormous garden holds more than enough space for all of us, while also feeling to us like nothing short of a tropical paradise.

Night in the Outback

The day’s warm and humid weather continues well into the night. Instead of sleeping in our tents, we decide to stay under the open sky for once. A certain Outback-like atmosphere has definitely reached the team by now. On Sunday, the tkSR gets going again early in the morning, and back onto the road. Due to an error with our motors we have to pack up a little earlier as planned this afternoon. Still, the total distance covered made it well into the four figures. Even the longest part of the BWSC doesn’t seem to be too excessive for our car.

What else is there to say about two exhausting days? While running our big test we also managed to meet some other teams, who utilize the track for some testing of their own. Team Agoria from Belgium is also active on Gunn Point Road on Saturday, testing their telemetric system. Several Dutch teams whom we met at iLumen European Solar Challenge last year join us at one point or another. And of course, there’s also another meeting team Sonnenwagen from Aachen.

At one point we’re being visited by team SunSPEC from Singapore, who tell us about their unfortunate setbacks from the previous days. While travelling to Darwin, their SolarCar’s battery short-circuited, resulting in the car catching fire and burning down entirely. Participating in the BWSC out of reach for them now, our Singaporean colleagues nevertheless decided to visit some other teams as well as the event itself to still be part of the experience.

It’s undeniably an exciting few days, seeing this so very secluded area turn into a lively meeting spot for solar racers from around the world. Getting to know our peers from so many different countries is of course also part of participating in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. With this and many other things in mind, we look forward to the next days.

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