Bridgestone World Solar Challenge – Day 6

Full Throttle to the Finish Line

One last time, teams Bochum and Minnesota get going on the Stuart Highway. Starting from a little resting spot, we move on to the big finish line in Adelaide. We notice once again how strict BWSC regulations can be when starting today’s racing a minute late. We arrived exactly one-minute past five at our rest stop last night. Minnesota got here another five minutes later, so now they end up having to wait a little longer still.

Off we go onto the final stretch. This part of the country is no longer part of the Outback, even though everything still looks very rural. Instead of having to wait more than 100 kilometers for even the next gas station, we now pass through smaller towns more and more regularly. We see a lot of agricultural land use around us, making for a stark contrast to the vast emptiness we already passed through. Not much is left of the previous days’ ups and downs; everyone’s excited and looking forward to arriving in so short a time.

But fate briefly catches up with us one more time, when one of our PCM modules reports an error about halfway along the route. It’s a minor issue which can quickly be fixed while stopping on the side of the road. It still delays us somewhat and causes Minnesota to rush past us to the finish line. We get back on the road shortly behind them. Catching up with Minnesota again will be difficult in so short a distance, especially when considering the ever-increasing traffic around here.

Final Stretch Through the Suburbs

The streets are getting more and more packed. Soon we pass Adelaide’s city limits and start making our way downtown. At the last checkpoint before reaching Victoria Square, our final time for crossing the continent is measured, at exactly 11:55. Crossing the actual finish line still holds a lot of symbolic weight for the teams to celebrate completing their big adventure.

This is what we want to do now. The thyssenkrupp SunRiser stays at the checkpoint for a bit, awaiting permission to cover the last four kilometers. Most of the team is at Victoria Square already, anxiously glancing in the direction from which we expect our SolarCar to approach.

And now the moment arrives. Nobody can say just for how long we’ve been waiting; with all the excitement going around, we don’t even look at our watches anymore. Accompanied by roaring cheers our SolarCar finally arrives at the end of the journey. We kick off the finish line celebrations as soon as the tkSR comes to a standstill in the middle of Victoria Square. Everyone rejoices for a while, cheering ourselves and our car on. The party finishes with going for a swim in the square’s central fountain, as is tradition.

All the tension from the previous days, along with the work and stressful situations we’ve been through now falls off our shoulders like the most enormous weight imaginable. Some of us still can’t fully grasp the circumstance of how our replacement motors carried us all the 3022 kilometers across the Outback just like that. We really, really made it now. With all the Cruisers being so close to each other in the ranking, it’s still impossible to say what position we’ll end up in. But that doesn’t concern us in this moment. What’s important is that after all the demanding struggles and obstacles we finally passed the biggest test of them all and made it safely through the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

One Last Task

But we’re not entirely done just yet. The practicability test in which we need to present our car to the local public is still coming up. A group of judges will allocate a score to each team’s presentation. The results will also count towards our final ranking. The following award ceremony is scheduled for Sunday; here the Cruiser ranking will also be made public.

The celebratory note of the whole matter shouldn’t just be ignored, of course. With all competing now entirely behind us, we’ll meet up with other teams as often as we can, share stories about the Outback and spend some amazing last days in Adelaide. We’re excited for the experiences to be made in the upcoming days, and for getting to know the international SolarCar community a little more.

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