World Solar Challenge: Day 5


I was very happy to see the lead seven World Solar Challenge cars arrive in Adelaide today. The cars, with their approximate arrival times in Darwin time, were Nuon (team 3, Netherlands, 10:26), Twente (team 21, Netherlands, 10:35), Tokai (team 10, Japan, 11:20) – shown above – and Michigan (team 2, USA, 11:24), Punch (team 8, Belgium, 11:49), Stanford (team 16, USA, 13:54), and Kecskemét (team 23, Hungary, 15:34) – shown below. Add an hour to those times for Adelaide time, and another 20 minutes or so for them to get across the city from the timing point to Victoria Square.


Below is another race chart (as always, click to zoom). Data is taken from the official timing board for days 1 to 5 (but two obviously incorrect datapoints have been removed). In this chart, the distance is horizontal, and the vertical axis expresses time, specifically how many hours each car is behind a car driving at exactly 97.42 km/h (that’s the speed which would get a car into Adelaide at exactly closing time yesterday). Final positions on the vertical axis correspond to arrival times (but add an hour for Adelaide time, and another 20 minutes or so to get to Victoria Square). I have included Cruisers in this chart – note the compulsory overnight stop in Alice Springs for Cruiser cars.

I expect twelve cars to arrive during the course of Friday, including the top three Cruisers. The rules specify that “Solarcars must not proceed south of Port Augusta after 11:00 (Darwin time = 12:00 Adelaide time). Solarcars already running south of this point must trailer from this time.” It remains to be seen how many other cars will squeeze in under this limit to get into Adelaide on Saturday morning. In what I have started calling the B race, cars that have been trailered at some point will try to clock up as many solar kilometres as possible, given that limit, together with the closures of the Glendambo and Coober Pedy control stops at 11:20 and 14:00 tomorrow.

And here are the car positions this evening:


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13 thoughts on “World Solar Challenge: Day 5

  1. What a race . . .
    Thank you for the live comments, pics and graphics; must have been great to be there at the finish.
    It feels like the top 5 cars by themselves were extremely close if you look at performance of panels, aero, motors, etc.
    However 2 major elements have influenced the results significantly.

    The first is the ability to stay out of trouble.
    Tokai had trouble with a flat and damage to a wheel casing that cost them time, piece of mind and perhaps a less optimal performing car. They also had something going on with a support vehicle that caused at least discussions over time penalties; so far I am not sure if they served some or not.
    Punch had their own trouble with a flat tyre, the damaged suspension and of course the horrible and very severe 1 hour time penalty because of a support vehicle doing something bad. Without these they would probably have ended well in 3rd place. It shows that the leaders of the teams must also have a solid contol over the entire support team and continuously make every member aware that not focussing on the top priorities could very well mean the difference between winning or losing or even finishing at all. And still something bad can happen . . . .
    Michigan had a fender rubbing against a wheel that cost them speed and energy.
    Nuon and Twente have been able to stay out of such troubles this time around.
    Doing a very detailed check of most of the components of your car whenever you have the chance at a stop can help prevent some trouble. Preventive maintenance has been a big thing in most industries for ages. Design for not breaking without using stainless steel everywhere is a major challenge for all teams. Communications in the teams, driving style and enjoying some luck every now and then are also vital to stay out of trouble. One flat tyre by Nuon on day 4 or 5 would have cost them the championship.

    The second is strategy.
    I feel that Michigan did a great job in getting out of Darwin first in the bright sunlight, making the teams down the grid spending extra energy to catch up. Could they have gone faster? Could they start Day 2 with a full battery after static charging and taken a bigger lead? I don’t know. In the end it turned out they went into the final day with a very low battery facing head winds and cloud cover. Looking at the graph Tony provided, and comparing to the similar graph of 2013, it is clear Tokai didn’t make the same mistake twice and saved energy on Day 3 and 4 to keep going on Day 5.
    Punch went for a big catch-up race after sitting out their time penalty; they may have burned their energy too fast on Day 3 so they had to slow down into the headwinds of Day 4.
    Maybe Twente should have stayed ahead of Nuon and be more bold to trust that their remaining energy would be at least the same as Nuons? The fact that they were able to catch up on Nuon in the last 200 kms suggests they had more charge to spend. Nuon played the game perfectly to not get into a battle of overtaking each other multiple times (that would have cost both Dutch teams) but wait till late in the race. But if Twente would have been able to speed up ahead of them to prevent the passing, we could have had another winner.
    I would love to spend some time with the strategists of the top 5 teams to see what information they use and how decisions were made. Interesting pic of Nuons strategy dashboards:

    So far we had an absolutely fabulous race, so close, great emotions, true top sport.
    And there is still more to come.

  2. Erik

    Indeed there is more to come. Looking down the field there are 13 more cars that have not used their trailers yet. Of these I would think that Jonkoping are probably the last team with a good chance of finishing in time. They have just passed Pimba and so have eleven and a half hours to cover around 475km. Behind them are KIT but they have around 680 km to cover and only eleven hours to do it, I doubt that is possible. Even so it looks like we will have 17 finishers and maybe 4 cars who were only beaten by the clock.

    In the Cruisers it looks like it will be Eindhoven who win again, despite losing the race by around an hour. To go into the final judging in the lead Kogakuin will need to gain another 17 mins or so tomorrow and I doubt that they have time for that. All of that is assuming that Eindhoven have carried two people and Kogakuin only one.

  3. It looks like the Michelin equipped cars had no flats. Nuon, Twente, and Michigan. Tokai had the bridgestones, don’t know if punch had the bridgestones as well. It would be interesting to see how the different tires performed.

  4. Hi Tony,
    It would be great if you could add the data from Coober Pedy and Glendambo to the graph if you have them available. It may show in more detail how the cards were played out between Tokai, Michigan and Punch. But you may also be wanting to get some sleep first .;)

    On the tyres: I am pretty sure Megalux used the Bridgestone tyres; Punch did not and still had a flat. But you need bigger numbers to come to any meaningful conclusions.

      • I found a tweet from MostDece with the top times (photo of the notice board there) at Glendambo:

        Twente 11:26:32
        Nuon 11:26:55
        Michigan 12:10:37
        Tokai: 12:25:58
        Punch: 13:17:09
        Stanford: 14:32:53
        Megalux: 15:30:01

        And he also had a photo of the Coober Pedy notice board:
        (arrivals)
        Twente 08:12:05
        Nuon 08:12:43
        Michigan 08:48:05
        Tokai 09:09:03
        Punch 09:13:58 (they apparently left at 10:01; having discussions about the time penalty issue)
        Stanford 10:45:47
        Megalux 11:35:29

        I assume your R-magic automaticaly takes the data from the official timing boards and it may not be easy to throw these in.
        But since you are a Wizard you will probably find a way .;)

      • I think I can incorporate those. Can you find times for Katherine and Tennant Creek (please post links if you do)?

  5. My replies to this with the links haven’t registered so far, don’t know what’s wrong?
    Maybe your site doesn’t comments to posts that are a few days old?
    The timing board photos are in MostDece’s twitterfeed, both on Oct 17th.

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