The Nuon Solar Team has convincingly won the 14th edition of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the worldchampionship solar car racing in Australia. Nuna9 finished in Adelaide around 6.45, on the fifth day of the race. Their 3.000-km-long journey across the Australian Outback took them 4 days and about 6 hours. This is the Nuon Solar Team’s seventh championship title.
The Nuon Solar Team increased their lead over their major rivals, Michigan (USA), Tokai (Japan) and Punch Powertrain (Belgium), on the last racing day. Spare driver Tim van Leeuwen started the day in Nuna9. Race driver, Lisanne de Rooij, took over at the control stop and finished in Adelaide. Her fellow driver Sharon van Luik in Australia: “Of course, we were very nervous. Something can always happen. We were a bundle of nerves, you might say. But everything went great! Nuna9 reached a maximum velocity of 110 km per hour. And that solely with the energy the sun provides us with! ‘Ripper’ – as they’d say in Australia!”
Decisions worked out
This was the ninth time the Nuon Solar Team participated in the world championship. They brought back the championship trophee six time to the Netherlands and were the runner-up twice. Nonetheless, the tension was great for the successful team, says team manager Sander Koot. “The new race regulations have resulted in a great variation of car designs. No one knew for sure which one would perform best. Fortunately, we choose a compact aerodynamic design and efficient solar panel.”
Successful overtaking actions
The team started the race on position 4, after a great qualification on Saturday. Driver Emma Vercoulen drove the Hidden Valley track in an impressive 2:14 minutes. Directly in the first day the team overtook the three competitors in front of them: Sydney, Punch and, ultimately, their long-time rival Tokai from Japan.
Mechanical issues on road
A broken part of the car suspension was the cause of some exciting moments on day 2. Race driver Sharon van Luik: “I was startled by this bang and thought it was a blowout. Unfortunately, I had to stop and witness how our competitor Tokai overtook us. Luckily, our support crew fixed the car very quickly and this enabled us continue the race within ten minutes.” After a short period of time, the team reclaimed its position as front-runner in the challenge.
Clouds and hard winds
The third and fourth racing days turned out to be strategically crucial, especially when the sun disappeared behind the clouds. Hard winds and even rain characterized this day. These conditions actually benefited the Nuon Solar Team; their design choices enabled them to extend their lead to 2 hours on the penultimate day. Aerodynamics expert Jasper Hemmes: “Nuna9’s compact, lightweight and aerodynamic design features enabled us to drive at a great speed. Due to this aerodynamic design, we were able to profit from the suction – caused by the wind.” Strategy analyst Stijn Burger elaborates: “Thanks to the information provided by our meteo-team we were able to maximize our energy incomes.”
The Nuon Solar Team’s coach Marc Lammers – who coached the Nuon Solar Team during their race – is very much impressed by ‘his’ team. “One of their strongholds is that everyone’s familiar with each other’s strengths. One team member knows everything about tires, some else is an expert in the field of aerodynamics, and some other members know all the ins and outs of the solar panel and electronics. This team makes great decisions at the right moments; and they do it together. Their concentration is great, which results in a great team spirit. The latter has been translated into this fantastic outcome.”