11th October - Challenge Day 4
This morning, the Media Team with other interested team members, headed south at sunrise to go and find the closest solar car teams and capture some shots of morning charging and the solar cars on the road. This plan was modified rather by the torrential rain and large amounts of standing water on the roads.
We made it as far south at Stuarts Well, where we found Western Sydney and Eindhoven camped up. With no sign of letting up, both teams were concerned for themselves and the teams further north, as the next Control Stop was due to close at 5pm in Kulgera. It was great to be able to hear their thoughts and discussions, but difficult to watch the struggle that the weather had brought on.
Setting up for that one perfect shot
Fortunately, as the Challenge Day began at 8am, the weather eased off and the sky brightened a little, allowing both teams to head to their starting positions and get on the road. Fortunately, it was still quite warm so the roads dried off fairly rapidly, removing the danger of standing water on the roads.
As we headed back north, we managed to capture shots of 6 different teams on the road and came across a few others closer towards Alice Springs. We then headed to the Alice Springs Control Stop with the rest of the team, once we had cleared out of our accommodation (a hostel was a very wise choice in the weather!).
Western Sydney Solar Car back on the road, north of Stuarts Well (the perfect shot)
As we arrived, it became apparent that the BWSC Officials had decided to extend the opening hours of the Control Stop, in order to help more teams get in after the terrible weather. Unfortunately this information had not got through to all the teams to the north, resulting in one of them trailering their car unnecessarily. It is unclear what exactly will happen to this team, but it is possible that they will be reinstated to Challenger Class.
We also caught up with DUEM at the Control Stop and were happy to hear that they had achieved a few more solar km yesterday, although they are now in Adventure Class as they had to trailer their car to keep up with the Control Stops. This is a difficult decision which many teams have been forced to make, leaving only 15 teams still in the Challenger Class. In 2015, 20 teams made it all the way to the finish line.
After the control stop had closed, we paid a quiet visit to the local aquatic centre to entertain ourselves while waiting for our driver's appointment at the Alice Springs Hospital. This was a welcome break from the road and set us up for heading straight off back to Stuarts Well this evening, this time to camp out in the pouring rain ourselves. On the way there, the Media Team got caught in a rain shower so intense that there was no way to see more than about 10m in front of the car, and we were forced over. These are of course alarming situations to find yourself in when travelling with a solar car event, and we sincerely hope that no solar cars found themselves out on the road in similar conditions today.