Our Team’s Greatest Test So Far

The thyssenkrupp SunRiser at Static Scrutineering

A tense mood has settled over team Bochum this Tuesday morning in Darwin. It’s the day of our appointment at Static Scrutineering, where Bridgestone World Solar Challenge officials will thoroughly review our car and hopefully approve our participating in the race. However, the scrutineers at BWSC are thought to be among the strictest worldwide for a reason. Only yesterday did we learn about what happened on the first day of scrutineering. Out of twelve teams who presented their car on Monday, only a single one managed to pass all the tests. Everybody else ended up having to re-present their cars some time later this week.

So far, nobody knows how our team will do. But we spent all of yesterday checking, re-checking, and preparing everything in and around the tkSR and its escort vehicles. Even the smallest complications were considered, and every necessary document got reviewed. We cleaned and polished our SolarCar to make it shine like on its very first day. In theory, nothing should go wrong from this point forward. Still, there’s lots of agitated faces at our workshop this morning.

The team assembles in front of Darwin Convention Centre at noon. The venue is all about SolarCars and the big race this week. We listened to a local radio station on our way here, where a special report told us about the spectacle going on there, and how everyone in Darwin seems to be as excited for the Challenge to start as we are. Every team member has themselves registered with BWSC volunteers on arrival, before the tkSR finally rolls into the main auditorium.

Under Scrutiny

And here we go. Our SolarCar needs to pass 14 different checks, most of which focus on electrical, mechanical, or security measures. Only seven members of our team are allowed to accompany the thyssenkrupp SunRiser directly, thus presenting our work. Everyone else nervously observes the ordeal from a designated public viewing area. Several other teams are in here with us, impatiently waiting for their own cars to go through.

But the thyssenkrupp SunRiser does extremely well. So does the team standing behind it every minute of the way. During its six hours at scrutineering, our SolarCar passes the BWSC’s tests one-by-one. Still we hold our breaths the closer we get to the end. At the final stop, the scrutineers keep discussing a mechanical detail until eventually the venue needs to be closed for the night. Two out of three officials agree to signing us off, only the last signature doesn’t arrive in time. Somewhat exhausted but nonetheless relieved, we load our SolarCar back into its trailer. All in all, things could be worse. Despite all our worries, nothing about our car needs fixing tonight.

We come back the next morning. This time, it only takes about half an hour until officials hand us a sticker, reading “Dynamic Ready.” The first out of two hurdles towards qualification is now behind our team. We’ll move on to dynamic scrutineering on Saturday.

Goodbye Gunn Point Road

Dynamic scrutineering describes a two-lap drive our SolarCar will have to accomplish on the local race track at Hidden Valley. To make this stage of scrutineering run as smoothly as the first, we’ll do some more testing in the meantime. The thyssenkrupp SunRiser spends most of Wednesday driving around Gunn Point Road again, but there’s also some scheduled tests on Hidden Valley Race Track itself. Our team has a lot to do still, and we’re doing our best to get ourselves ready.

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