October 23, 2007 (Monsters and Critics) – A Japanese car led a 37-strong field Tuesday in a race across the Australian Outback that is reserved for the world’s most environmentally friendly vehicles.The Ashiya University entry in this year’s Darwin-to-Adelaide World Solar Challenge will start from Alice Springs ahead of triple-winner and record-holder Nuon Solar from the Netherlands.
Nuon Solar is again the favourite to reach Adelaide first in the 3,021-kilometre unofficial world championships for solar-powered vehicles. To set the record of 29 hours and 11 minutes, Nuon Solar averaged over 100 kilometres an hour for the six-day dash.
The car tipped to take the fight up to Aurora is the entry from German solar-energy giant SolarWorld AG. Its sleek, yellow SolarWorld No 1 lies sixth and is crewed by students from Bochum University.
An oddity of the race is that competitors stop wherever they are at sunset.
‘The unique nature of the event is that wherever a team gets to at 5 pm that’s where they make camp, so a number of these teams will be camped in the bush alongside the Stuart Highway over the coming days,’ said race director Chris Selwood.
Aurora team manager David Fewchuck said Australia’s sole entry in the elite class was holding up well. ‘It hasn’t fallen apart yet but one of our sister teams has so, so we’ll see how it goes,’ he told national broadcaster ABC.
Another 20 vehicles are competing in other classes, including one for hybrid vehicles.