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21 October 2009
After an epic journey from the UK, Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) has made it to Darwin for The Global Green Challenge a biennial competition in which solar-powered cars race from Darwin to Adelaide, a journey of around 3,000km. The 2009 competition will take place from October 25th to 31st.
The team have sent this report: "We have spent a well deserved two weeks travelling up the East Coast of Australia from Sydney to Darwin getting some valuable practice in camping and driving part of the race route through the Outback. We met the car in Darwin on Tuesday 22nd September after she had been transferred across land from Sydney. CUER received a very warm welcome from BOC in Winnellie where they have provided the crucial and much appreciated workshop and office space. A great deal of thanks are also due to Virgin Atlantic who flew Endeavour's chassis safely half way around the world for us in only a few days. We have also just received our bodywork and array off the sea freight container delivered via the port in Darwin - we'll have to wait to see if Endeavour is the fastest car in the race but she was certainly the fastest through customs, at only three hours!
"Pre-race scrutineering has seen Endeavour's first triumph; the Australian Transport Board here in Darwin has seen fit to grant her road legal status. This means we are able to road test the chassis on the Australian highways performing essential shake-down tests. We are currently testing the underlying electronics and mechanics before we add the bodywork and solar array. A fantastic effort from the entire technical team has meant that really great progress was made over the last two weeks in preparing the car to pass this crucial test. Progress has included some modifications to improve the braking system, some significant tuning of the motor, and even some new comfort measures for the driver.
"Endeavour reached speeds of 56mph which is very encouraging at this stage. Since arrival in Darwin the time has been used primarily for testing and final alterations. This is great news because we believe that it is a lengthy and comprehensive testing programme that will give us the edge over our competition and see us achieving a fantastic race position.
"We have enjoyed meeting our Global Green competitors, particularly Nuon, the Dutch defending champions, who we met for some swapping of notes and the obligatory few drinks last weekend. We were however sorry to hear that they had an accident during testing and crashed their car whilst travelling at 68mph. Luckily the driver got out okay but much work remains to be done on the car. We wish them all the best and hope that they are able to return the car to race standard in time for the race. The testing of Endeavour out here in Australia is the next step since testing in August at Ford's test track in Dunton, Essex. Ford lent us the use of their environmental testing laboratory where we experienced the heat and sunlight conditions that we expected to find in the Outback. The car performed very well in this environment and we have begun to discover that these results were both accurate and encouraging as Endeavour has already improved upon her test track performance."
Footage of the test day can be found at: www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/308458/under_the_hood_of_the_solar_electric_car.html.
You also may have spotted our double page spread in The Sun: www.cuer.co.uk/cuer/sites/default/files/SUN041SE19.pdf.
You can follow our progress in Darwin and across the Outback on our blog: www.cuer.co.uk/blog and look out for our updates on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/cuerendeavour
For more information on the race visit: www.globalgreenchallenge.com.au.
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