WSC: Challenger race chart

The chart above (click to zoom) is the first of my classic race charts for this year’s race (a number of data issues have held me up). The chart, which only shows the 15 surviving Challengers, is drawn with reference to a baseline speed of 83.89 km/h. This is the speed that would complete the race (to end of timing) in 4 days and 5 hours (that’s a substantially slower baseline than I used in 2015). The vertical axis shows how far behind the baseline cars are driving. Straight lines represent cars driving at a consistent speed. There are several things to note here:

  • 3: Nuon: Nuon have engaged in superb weather strategy, which they describe here. They have sped up and slowed down to catch the sun.
  • 10: Tokai: Tokai slowed down substantially after Barrow Creek. They posted on Facebook that they were happy about being second into Alice Springs, but gave no explanation for their slower speed.
  • 15 & 88: WSU & Kogakuin: These two teams are running together. Both have slowed since Tennant Creek, and neither has explained why.
  • 25: Nagoya (NIT): This team also slowed after Tennant Creek, without explaining why.
  • 71: ITU: The “Bees On Wheels” are running absolutely borderline in terms of finishing the race on time. Even a small amount of bad luck could see them drop back to Adventure class.

22 thoughts on “WSC: Challenger race chart

  1. Two years ago the differences between many teams really started to show after Kulgera. That suggests that anything can still happen. But the combination of worse conditions and much smaller arrays may be the reason for the gaps opening up earlier in the race.
    It will still be very exciting to see if today’s advance of the MJ-powered cars (like Nigel mentioned earlier) will continue tomorrow. Or did Twente and Tokai save their energy for a big move in the windy, cloudy and maybe even rainy conditions we may still face?

    Another topic is that both Tokai and Kogakuin are struggling with the tilting of their arrays (or rather their entire cars) by just the driver during control stops, losing valuable time. They may want to rethink that for 2019 if these regulations stay the same.

    • The cruisers lost only 1/6 of their array sizes and because charging makes up about 1/3 of their energy the cruisers should have lost no more than about 10% of their capacity compared to 2015.

      Challengers lost more performance but top teams were driving close to the maximum 100 kph speed limits in South Australia in 2015 making passing on the roads difficult and even dangerous (Tokai vs Michigan)

  2. Moving the teams which can not make it to the control stop in time to adventure class is a very discouraging for the team members and also the sponsors.

    • A few people have said that, on various social media. Perhaps teams could make their feelings known to the WSC (because there’s nothing I can do about it).

      • Are the cruiser cars that were moved to the adventure class still evaluated on Saturday with respect to the practicality score? The regulations (section 4.4) are not clear on that, as it doesn’t state when the practicality score will be determined. Section 4.4.3 might indicate that only the finished cruiser cars are evaluated:

        … P is the team’s practicality score, and P* is the highest practicality score of any team that completed the route and arrived at the Adelaide marshalling area within the target time window.

      • In the past only teams that finished were judged. My interpretation is that they have changed that this year. The regs say that teams that do not finish in the window will get an Efficiency score of zero, I think that means they will be judged.

    • I think the issue really stems from the massive gulf in levels of the team. The top 6 teams absolutely in a class of their own. Organizers had to change rules to spread the field up front, but making the competition harder has really hampered the teams in the back. For obvious reasons they have to close down control stops, and teams need to move along. It’ll be interesting to see how WSC fixes the issue and make the field more compact. Maybe introduce a third competitive class which allows for cars that are easier to build to go to similar speeds to the top teams. Its just so hard to make one set of rules for top teams who spend millions and have everything down to a tee, and the teams who cant spend as much time and money. I mean these dutch teams stop studying and work on teams for 18 months full time, and have multimillion budgets. Other teams do it part-time with minimal cash, and are here for the experience (look at Siam, they partied night before the race, forgot to plug in solar cells to battery, yet have to follow same rules as the Dutch). Its really like asking amateur club football players to play in their national team at the World Cup. If I were these lesser teams, I would look to other races, such as the Shell Eco Marathon.

      • Well, money isn’t impossible to get. The key is to appoint a finance team very early on that are good at getting sponsors. But overall, a degree of professionalism is expected. A solar car team is like an internship, rather than like a club. Partying the night before the race isn’t really a good look.

        However, you raise some important points. Cruisers have been a bit of a disaster this year, but if you look at Challengers, you can see that the North American teams are all doing OK (Michigan, Blue Sky, Stanford, Principia). That’s because the weaker North American teams only go to FSGP/ASC, and graduate to WSC when they’re doing well. Perhaps we need more regional competitions like that.

      • I haven’t decided yet what I think of the Challenger rules ( I think my thoughts are quite clear on the Cruisers) but one thing I will say is that the WSC committee do not seem to like the idea of small changes.

        Last time it was Cruisers from 4 charges to 1 which proved too much. This time perhaps it is 6m2 down to 4m2 which is the problem. Why not try 5m2 first?

        Re the re-allocation to adventure class it’s tricky. In some ways it’s very little difference to previous years – just more noticeable. I’m sure that teams will count there own solar miles and make them public. Again it’s a step change, why not say that teams will be re-allocated if they can’t make the control stops but extend the opening times very slightly?

        Goko were about 10 minutes behind schedule today after 1200 miles and lost out.

      • Regarding regional competitions, it’s really only Asia(excluding Japan) and, dare I say it? Australia that don’t have one now. The Japanese teams NIT, Kogakuin and Goko have all been well served by Suzuka, The South Americans by Atacama , NWU and UKZN last time by Sasol and the Turkish teams to some extent by Formula G.
        I would hope that Europe can now get some benefit from their 24 hour races.
        Now, who’s going to organise an Australian championship?

    • I followed ASC 2016 fairly closely. There every car except Michigan had to trailer at some point. If they had applied the “adventure class” rule, they would have ended up with a one-team race. I would hate that to happen here.

    • They raised a point which I had suspected but not investigated and which relates to my answer above. Control stop closing times are slightly earlier this time as well.

  3. @Nigel
    “Last time it was Cruisers from 4 charges to 1 which proved too much. This time perhaps it is 6m2 down to 4m2 which is the problem. Why not try 5m2 first?”

    It is 5m2 for Cruisers

  4. Woah Nuon starting the day going averaging 88kmh. Thats not what I was expecting after the fast pace yesterday and shitty weather.

  5. So we have been having a debate…who has the best strategy. I have been arguing that the best strategy is the straightest line so #71 wins. Curious what you think of the premise and who has the straightest line…

    • Generally a straight line is good: know your car and run at the optimum speed. However, there are clever variations on that for weather strategy.

      Of course, 71 is the slowest of the surviving Challengers.

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