In Race Updates: Part 2

Day 4 (~1190km from Darwin)

Sun is out, sky still slightly hazy due to smoke hanging in the air. Broke camp before 6:30 again to return to start position and gather energy from the rising sun. George driving.

Driver change to Emil good progress under solar power this morning. A few random power losses but the system recovers with a quick reset, cause unknown, it isnt really slowing us down. New bush fires seen starting about 1km to the west of the road. Other teams may get stuck if the fires spread much faster.

Bushfire!

Bushfire!

Day 4 (~1302km from Darwin)

We arrive at the (moved) control point under solar power and having put energy into the battery whilst driving. Unfortunately cloud rolls in during the half hour enforced break. We’d like to make it to Alice Springs by close of play, but if the light doesn’t improve we’ll probably stop short. George returns to the cockpit.

Day 4 (~1334km form Darwin)

O nly 32km down the road from the control point, George (aka Kobyashi) reports a complete loss of power. Cause as of yet unkown. Electrical team decide to trailer rather than sit in the clouds (losing sunlight and equivelant to losing power) to figure it out.

Day 4 (~1495km from Darwin)

Arrived at Alice Springs control point on the trailer. With 13 minutes of race time left when we were allowed to leave, it was decided to trailer for that time to macimise our distance from Alice Springs to ensure we weren’t in the morning rush hour traffic.

Day 4 (~1515km from Darwin)

Dan Inspects the battery as the Array is pointed at the setting sun

Dan Inspects the battery as the Array is pointed at the setting sun

Wild camping by the side of the road in an area of bush scarred by fairly recent burning. Dan and Ed are frustrated to find out that the battery is near enough full due to charging in the morning session. The loss of power is now most likely attributed to a bad cell management board, at least we know it is not the actual battery and we can draw some power tomorrow in an attempt to reach the Kulgera control point on time.

Camp broken, the scout can is heading back to Alice Springs for supplies and for Emil to get his internet fx and do our PR. With no mobile or internet access available for hundreds of miles at a time (I.E Darwin, Tennant creek, Alice Springs) we need to take the opportunity to update our supporters. The rest of the convuy is ready to go and with a clear sky (excluding the slight hanging smoke haze) and a full battery we’re hopeful of another food solar day.

Day 5 (~1645 from Darwin)

Good running, Tom has driven 125km in just over two hours on solar power. Swapping Lucy into Endeavour, control point in 125km.

Day 5 (~1766 from Darwin)

Kulger Control point reached under solad power, 251km done so far today. The car is running well and it appears the cell management boards are behaving themselves today. However the forecast is for South Australia is cloudy, and the horizon is very dark. Tom returns to the hot seat.

Day 5 (~1786km from Darwin)

NT/SA border reached under solar power.

Day 5 (~1840km from Darwin)

Yet another bush fire likely started by lightning, flames less than 10m from the road side! Smoke and clouds starting to fill the sky again.

Day 5 (~1850km from Darwin)

A few raindrops on our windscreen, we’ll press on until it is safe for Endeavour’s electronics (and Tom’s visibility). The sky looks increasingly ominious.

Day 5 (~1852km from Darwin)

LIGHTNING! We can now see heavy rain, fork lightning and more smoke around us, the wind is picking up too.

Day 5 (~1861km from Darwin)

Rain is now unsafe, cross wind un-drivable. We tarp Endeavour at the roadside in the hope it will pass. 5 minutes later the weather has worsened, we are forced to trailer again. Team disheartened, the car has been running so well in general for the last 3 days and only nature has prevented us from racking up solar kilometres. In a race that’s usually bathed in sun (as onemight have expected for a solar race!) we’ve had three massive roadside fires; burnt out control stops, 100km smoke clouds, dense overcast conditions, a massive thuderstorm and strong cross-winds. It’s almost like being at home!!

Day 5 (~2025km from Darwin)

Cadney Homestead... a tiny fuel stop in the middle of absolutely nowhere

Cadney Homestead... a tiny fuel stop in the middle of absolutely nowhere

We trailer to Cadney Homestead to camp, we seem to have cleared the rain for the moment but dark clouds strech out as far as the eye can see and it looks like rain will catch up with us shortly.

CUER sets up camp at Cadney

CUER sets up camp at Cadney

Day 6 (~2025km from Darwin)

Heavy rain overnight, tents just about kept us dry (with the exception of Lucy). 10 or so teams were forced to trailer to the homestead in the evening, most left on trailers at the crack of dawn, giving up more solar kilometers. It looks brighter this morning and far off we can see a small break in the clouds (to the West though, so it is no help to us). We figure we have more battery charge than most of the teams that turned up so we are going to leave under solar power (stored up in the battery at least) and try and gain some more distance. We will just miss the Coober Pedy control point but should make the next one at Glendambo (if we don’t run out of energy first). Clouds looking a bit better, but the forecast isn’t good as we leave.

Day 6 (~2130km from Darwin)

Driven roughly 100km on the battery + a little daylight (no direct sunlight today). The cloud is solid and grey, South Australia is not being conducive to solar racing! Weather map shows a huge cloud parked over the rermainder of the route. We are beggining to suspect that the biggest & fastest teams adopted such a rapid strategy for the first part of the race because they knew this was coming and reckoned they could avoid being stuck under the cloud. The majoirty of the field, including us, has not been so lucky. Race of the trailers is on!

 

Alisdair McClymont

Alisdair McClymont

Alisdair is another CUER veteran who does not seem to have been put off by all the sanding that needs doing. As Project Manager, he now works hard to produce the dedicated but ambitious time plans and budgets that we try our best to adhere to. He occasionally dabbles in software and works on telemetry, the CompactRIO and CAN bus.
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3 Responses to In Race Updates: Part 2

  1. Judith Willson says:

    Really impressed with what you’ve all achieved against the odds in such extreme conditions – it says a lot for the team’s skills and determination that the car has performed so well, in conditions that no one could have prepared for. I hope you get a well-deserved welcome when you reach Adelaide!

  2. rf says:

    Really bad luck this time but don’t be disheartened, really much more reliable performance this time from the car. Well done.

  3. You did what you did and for as much as you could and did some more, there are no words that can describe how you feel right now, we know. The journey is long and our prays are with are with both you and DUSC on the last day as you arrive in Adelaide your hearts will be filled with joy and renew the passion for the journey you have taken this pasted year.

    God bless each one of you, Tîm Gwawr

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