Race Day 4
Courtesy of Matt Nixon & Rachel Kramer
19 October 2011 – The Outback
I’ve been embedded with the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, bringing you updates from the Outback. They are competing in the World Solar Challenge. Tonight we have a report written by the team’s (always in motion) manager Rachel Kramer. Enjoy!
And as always, you can keep up with the WSC here
DAY 4 – EVENING UPDATE
By Rachel Kramer
Approx. 1:00 PM – Michigan pulled into the “Opal Inn” control stop in Coober Pedy. As the first stop after crossing into South Australia, Coober Pedy is absolutely in the middle of nowhere. The town’s defining feature is the fact that it is surrounded by opal mines, which result in a landscape covered in hills of sand and red dirt that have been taken out of the ground during the search for opals. The trip from Kulgera, where Michigan camped last night, was nearly 400 km and the longest leg of the race.
Winds were extremely strong today, as the team discovered about 100 km short of the Coober Pedy stop. A giant gust of wind was able to open and remove one of the windowed fairings that typically cover Quantum’s front wheels and open only when the car is making a sharp turn. These “windows” are fairly large parts, so spares are not kept in the main caravan and the team had to wait several minutes for the semi trailer to catch up with a spare. Once a new fairing was placed on Quantum they were back on the road, but the gap between Michigan, Nuon and Tokai had widened to be more than 30 minutes between teams.
On the trip from Coober Pedy to the next control stop in Glendambo, bad luck hit Quantum again with just the wrong combination of cross winds and road train wakes to pull the window off a second time. This time the team was ready and made the fix more quickly, but significant time was still lost on the side of the road today.
We will finish Day 4 by camping in Glendambo, a town which proudly advertises a population of 22,000 sheep, 2,000,000 flies and 30 humans. Anything can happen in the last 591 km of the race, but we know we’ll need some luck to go our way tomorrow in order to beat Michigan’s previous records and place higher than third in the world.
Photos courtesy of Marcin Szczepanski, Multimedia Content Producer/College of Engineering, U-M
Early morning on day four of the World Solar Challenge. University of Michigan’s Quantum and Neon’s Nuna 6 charge their solar batteries in what has become twice daily ritual in Australia. October 19th, 2011 The cars are about to cross over to South Australia from Northern Territory this morning.
The mood soured among the team as the University of Michigan’s Quantum pulled over on the side of the road to deal with a missing faring (wheel cover) that was blown away by the strong wind. Today was supposed to be the day of a big push on the side of the U-M’s team that planned on overtaking Nuna 6 and maybe even getting close to the #1 Tokai University’s Challenger that was 30 minutes ahead of both Nuna 6 and Quantum at the end of the previous day. It’s day four at at the World Solar Challenge competition in Australia on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 The cars crossed over to South Australia from Northern Territory this morning.
Arrival Time at Coober Pedy
- Tokai 11:40
- Nuon 12:16
- Michigan 13:02
Next Control Stop: Glendambo (Times are UM Arrival, Darwin Time)
- Katherine 12:15 D1
- Dunmarra 16:20 D1
- Tennant Creek 11:36 D2
- Wauchope - Special 13:21 D2
- Ti Tree - Special 10:32 D3
- Alice Springs 13:15 D3
- Kulgera 16:41 D3
- Coober Pedy 13:02 D4
- Glendambo +254km D4
- Port Augusta +286km
"Status: Driving, en route to Glendambo. Holding P3. Trailing Nuon heavily due to 40 min. Fairing repairs." - Arrrggghhhh!!!! Angry UMSolar Hating Winds! Damn you.
For those of you that aren't quite sure what the "fairing" issue might be, I'll see if I can illustrate it. If you look closely at the image below, you'll see the (black) outline of a 'window' in the fairing (the fairing covers the wheel). The top, horizontal line can be seen just above the GM, Ford & IMRA decals. The left outline can be seen just to the right of the Roush and Vector decals. The right outline is the hardest to see, just to the left of the #2. Strong winds opened up the leading edge of the 'window' and was strong enough to rip the cover off, twice. These windows are in place so that the wheels can turn the vehicle. Otherwise the fairings would restrict the wheels and the turning radius would be about the same as an aircraft carrier.