World Solar Challenge

You might have read my previous post on the build of this solar car but I thought it’s worth cathching up on the reason it was built, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge which has been run and won. Click here for Video

In the lead up to the race myself and the team put in a lot of hours to finalise the car and make sure all the systems were working correctly.

I personally put a lot of hours into this program, I modified the trailer to suit, towed the car to Darwin from Geelong, handled all the media, completed a lot of the fabrication amongst many other things.

The drive up wasn’t all work, my wife Celia came along for the ride and we enjoyed all the amazing experiences the Australian Red Center has to offer.

Once in Darwin all the teams use the Hidden Valley Raceway to unpack their cars, tools and ready themselves for the grueling journey down to Adeliade.

Each team was able to book 4x 30 minute track sessions per day to test the cars operation, for us the car was very well sorted straight out of the trailer but all the systems around this needed tuning in.

The scrutineering process is an important one, each car completes a planned 3,200 road kilometers through some of the toughest terrain and the car needs to be up to the task. In a marathon 6 hour scrutineering session we had every nut and bolt checked to ensure the car was safe and ready for the journey. Completing this was a huge milestone for the team.

With a lot of the scrutineering process complete we could relax a little, focus on our preperation for the journey and enjoy the friendly faces that would visit from local schools.

On road testing was completed at Gunn Point Road and allowed us an opportunity to test and validate our sytems and processes.

Back at the racetrack we now had to complete Dynamic Scrutineering, this is a test to ensure the cars stable enough for the journey, this is then followed up by a hot lap of the racetrack which dictates the start position, these cars are not designed for dynamic speed but our driver Bohan did an amazing job to secure a 3rd in class finish. Having completed all the scrutineering processes we could finally relax and get ready for the challenge.

The night before the challenge all teams finalised their support cars and made sure any repairs that might need to be done to the car should be immediatly accesible to elimnate expensive delays.

We all said goodbye to Darwin and headed south on our 6 day journey to complete the 3,000km Challenge in the most efficient way possible. The rules state that we could drive from 8am to 5pm and any time outside of this we could position the car to catch the sunrise and sunset adding vital charge into the battery. This made for early mornings, long days and late nights.

You can see the day to day videos I produced HERE. The journey was an incredible experience for the whole team and we were able to fix any mechanical and electrical issues we encountered.

A day of thick smoke from busfires followed by strong headwinds depleted our battery enough to miss a crucial checkpoint in our challenge, this meant our scoring would end at our final resting position but we all wanted to complete the journey so we spent the night charging the car to continue on.

On our final night of the journey we stopped in at my long time friend James Mardle’s home racetrack thats flanked by the Flinders Ranges, James was nice enough to put us up for the night and share his slice of paradise with us.

I’d spent most of my year on this project, over a month on the road completing over 10,000km, 1,000s of photos, 100s of hours of video, CAD design, fabrication and thats just the tip of the iceburg. The team and I were honoured to recieve two awards from the WSC organisation, our hard work in the sustainability of our car construction methods along with our dedication to story telling along the way were honoured at the post challnge celebrations.

It might not be the traditional motorsport you have been used to seeing from me but it’s been an inspirational journey to be a part of. Over 40 teams from all around the world working on some very exciting technology testing it to extremes through Australias unique lanscapes.

If you ever have the opportunity to be involved in something like this as a student then DO IT! You will learn and develop so much through this process whilst meeting likeminded people from all corners of the globe.

Thanks for reading, now back to some good ol fashioned traditional motorsport, get excited….

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