Bridgestone World Solar Challenge – Day 2

The Long Trip Continues

This morning, we’re glad to see the thyssenkrupp SunRiser back on track again. Like we expected last night, the error which stopped us just short of Daly Waters turned out to be a relatively minor fault with an electric module. The team had to fix up a thing or two after dinner, but we didn’t take too long to get our car back in shape. Precisely at eight in the morning, we’re back on the Stuart Highway and into our second day of racing.

It takes us about half an hour to reach the checkpoint at Daly Waters. Once there, we stay for a half-hour break on the local roadhouse’s parking lot. Several teams who spent the night close to our own location arrive here with us. Only Team Eindhoven, the current scoreboard leaders have already continued on their way by the time we get here.

A monotonous stage of the race follows, leading us through the deepest depths of the Outback. We won’t arrive at another checkpoint before reaching Tennant Creek. The first of two charging spots during the race will be available there, but for now we still need to cover 400 kilometers of open road. We will have to reach Tennant Creek by 2 pm to not receive any penalties for the day. Soon many of our team members feel the usual weariness and boredom coming on. We are of course glad about the tkSR running smoothly again, even if it means there’s not a lot to do right now.

For a change in scenery, there’s three teams our convoy overtakes throughout the day, along with encountering an oversized vehicle on the opposite lane. The convoy needs to evade the oncoming truck a bit without it being too much of a problem. And there’s always Safety Pete helping us through today’s stage by regularly contacting teams over the radio, asking if everything’s alright, and giving out words of encouragement for the remaining stretch of road.

On to Tennant Creek

Right before we reach Tennant Creek there’s some more excitement to go through after all. Some construction work is going on at Threeways Roadhouse, blocking a short part of the road. Cars may only pass through every few minutes, and only for a very limited time. The thyssenkrupp SunRiser ends up having to wait a whole seven minutes for the construction site’s traffic light to let us pass. This creates a considerable delay for us, especially considering how its almost 2 pm and we’re short on time anyway. Some other Cruiser Class teams arrive here with us. Soon enough the question arises, whether any of us will make it on time. The last thing we’d want to happen is a delay forcing us to trailer our SolarCar to the checkpoint, thus automatically being pushed to the very end of the scoreboard.

But that doesn’t happen. As soon as the traffic light goes green, everyone hurries on to get the final few kilometers behind us. We arrive in Tennant Creek some ten minutes after the original deadline. The short delay might reduce our overall score at the end of the race, although whether or not it will count towards our score at all has yet to be determined. After all, we would have probably made it in time, had it not been for the traffic light in the way.

On our arrival we’re greeted by event observers. Part of our team immediately starts the process of charging our battery using the solar array. Everybody else moves on to a nearby campsite to prepare our rest stop for the night. Next to a kitchen and showers, there’s also a pool here, offering some easy refreshment in the afternoon heat. When the sun goes down, the tkSR and all other Cruiser Class cars make their way to a public charging station to fill up the rest of their batteries, while the everybody else takes some time off to recharge some energy of their own. With the next stage of the journey being a total of1200 kilometers, we’ll be sure to need it.

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