NunaX in second position after second day of racing
The Vattenfall Solar Team with students from the TU Delft climbed from the eighth position to the second position after two days of racing. The gap between leading Solar Team Twente closes down slowly, but now it will come down to the details. With cloudy days ahead, the team strategists have to make a clever plan to become champions of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge with NunaX.
Saturday, the team had to earn a favorable starting position during the qualifications on the Hidden Valley Circuit in Darwin. Driver Max van der Waals pushed NunaX to its limits and set the eighth time on the circuit. Team leader Maud Diepeveen was very proud: "The circuit is curvy, whereas the solar car is built for the race on a straight road. The main goal was to get to the finish line undamaged, so this result is really excellent." Wednesday, the car slipped of the circuit during a testlap, causing heavy damage. Luckily, driver Max was unharmed, but the team had to work night and day to fix the car. The teamwork resulted in the eighth starting position.
Sunday, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge finally started. Tom Salden was the first driver of the Vattenfall Solar Team as NunaX departed at 8.30 am local time. Tom: "The circumstances were really tough. The temperature in my cockpit rose to 50 degrees Celsius, so I was completely drenched when I arrived at the first control stop." During the race, there are no roadblocks or other markings, so the drivers have to deal with all the regular traffic. Tom: "There are large trucks and even roadtrains which are up to 50 meters long. It was really exciting to drive past those vehicles with the featherlight solar car, but we did great!". The team ended their first day in second position, behind Twente and just before Groningen.
Monday, NunaX left Dunmarra for another racing day in the outback of Australia. The road was not entirely clear of obstacles, as there were several road works up ahead. Strategist Michiel Aarts: "Despite of the road works, we managed to ride a steady race today. If we keep up this work, we can even close down the gap to the leader of the race Twente". After the second control stop, clouds filled up the sky and the wind began to blow. This can be a potential risk, as NunaX is powered by the sun. In order to charge the battery tomorrow morning, the strategists had to determine the ideal camping spot. Weather specialist Wietse Bouwmeester explains: During the race, we kept track of all the forecasts, in order to be at the right spot to catch the last sunbeams of the day." The team traveled 736 kilometres today, which means they drove 1369 kilometres of the total 3000 kilometres. The next days will be crucial, the team will do all they can to reach the finish line in the first place.