Solar Team Twente drags in 2nd place in nerve-wracking race for solar cars
Solar Team Twente finished second in the solar racing world championship last night. After a 3000 kilometer race, the team arrived in Adelaide 20 minutes later than their competitors from Leuven. After starting 11th on Sunday, the team began a real race to catch up. During the first day the team caught up with eight teams and also during the days that followed the team caught up with the leader from Leuven. Yet in the end, the Dutchmen could not get a grip on the Belgian solar team.
All or nothing
With 40 kilometers behind the Belgians during the last night stop, Solar Team Twente knew it had to give everything during the last 250 kilometers to the finish. The team set off at high speed on Thursday morning, but due to heavy traffic and road works, was unable to put as much pressure on the Belgians as they had hoped.
As a result, the Twente student team finished second, 20 minutes behind the Belgians. And that’s not what the tukkers came for but an achievement in itself. After the many setbacks in which it suffered damage to the car and equipment from termites, it had a rough preparation in which it was delayed. Then when a forest fire threw a spanner in the works during the most essential day of testing, chaos seemed complete.
Still, the team remained optimistic and put their shoulders to the wheel together. The students managed to get the car ready in time for the race. Even during the 3,000-long journey, RED X – the Twente solar car – proved to be a fast, reliable car that had few faults and was stable on the road in heavy gusts of wind.
First Dutch Team
Solar Team Twente, competed in the World Solar Challenge together with the Dutch solar teams from the universities of Groningen and Delft. After Delft and Groningen qualified 3rd and 4th respectively, the tukkers passed both team without any difficulty. The students from Groningen finished 6th and the the team from Delft finished 2 hours behind Twente in third place.
The Belgians also managed to make a strong car this year. Both cars matched each other in many ways. It was the Belgians who had an extra weapon this year. Although it was called the World Solar Challenge, the Belgian car had an extendable, rotating fin that allowed them to sail on the wind. “The fin could probably have made just the difference but other circumstances also play a role at such a distance. The coin had unfortunately just fallen the wrong way in the last few days.” Says team manager Tim Woertman.
Besides the defeated feeling within the team there is mostly pride. “That we finished second here so close behind the Belgians is very sour, because as a team you work for fifteen months towards winning.” Tells Woertman. “But when you see from how far we have come and that together with Leuven we finished so far ahead of the other teams, we can be proud of our team! We did everything together this year.” Indeed, the tukkers finished … ahead of number three in the standings Delft. The TU Delft students had a disappointing race for the third time in a row.
Photographer: Cas van Laar