The cars are not made for these weather conditions. Today’s challenge is to arrive at two check points, one of which is in Alice Springs, the only larger town in the outback. Here, many bystanders are having a look at the extraordinary SolarCars.
Racing for the leading Position
As the start was outbraked by the unlucky incident on Sunday and the blue.cruiser fell to the last position, the team’s strategists were able to bring the car back to the leading field. The night camp was then established located only five minutes behind the camp of the preceding cruiser of team Eindhoven – so the motto of the day remains: #takeonthedutch and forms the target of the day. When reaching the check point in Bennant Creek at 9:30 am the lead of team Eindhoven decreased to only 45 seconds. The team from Bochum now has to concentrate on a fluent access and starting to reduce the other team’s lead. After only a few minutes the blue.cruiser overtook the cruiser from Eindhoven, which are travelling with a speed of 70 km/h while the SolarCar from Bochum is overtaking with 130 km/h. From now on the SolarCar from Bochum is leading the field of the cruiser class.
It’s getting wet in here
Around midday the rain starts pouring and the main problem at this point becomes the water on the road. The drivers have to track their cars properly, which is difficult due to the narrow tires of the SolarCars. A further disturbance is the lack of windshield wipers, not only the window’s outside are full of water but also in the inside the panes become fogged. The distance of the sight rapidly decreases. Here it once more becomes clear the importance of the support vehicles Lead and Chase, which can give crucial information to the driver. The biggest problem, however, is due to the car’s lightweight construction, because to build a SolarCar, which is completely leakproof would also mean additional weight. In practice, this leads to the entering of quite large amounts of water. Shirts and sacks full of sand are used to dry the leg room. Luckily, the blue.cruiser survives the rain without damage.
Problems – everywhere Problems
The starting problems of the last days are remaining also on the third day, unfortunately. The start in Alice Springs is more than problematic and the car is not able to start driving with two passengers by itself. After reducing the passenger to a minimum of one driver, the journey can be continued. Many other teams did not have had that much luck: five out of the 13 cruiser teams already must give up, due to technical problems and switched to the Adventure Class. Other teams are struggling with the distance and right now it seems questionable that they will arrive Adelaide within the given time frame between 11 am and 2 pm on Friday. Even though the blue.cruiser did not gain as many person kilometres as originally planned up to now, the team from Bochum has not lost its favourite role and can achieve one of the leading positions – of course, the car must arrive on time.
Today, the team drove 600 kilometres like yesterday. Despite the missing amount of person kilometres and the rather grim looking overall score, the first three days of the challenge were successful. The team is positive to accomplish the 3000 km and to arrive in Adelaide on time, which seems to be doubtful for many other teams. Here, the blue.cruiser’s strategy benefits of the bad weather conditions. The large size of the battery makes the car less dependent on the sun, where teams with a battery only half the size are hoping for the sun to show up again. In conclusion, if it keeps on raining and cloudy, it looks pretty sunny for the SolarCar Project from Bochum.