Fifth place after flat tire
The Belgian Punch Powertrain Solar Team is in fifth position after the first racing day of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the officious world championship for solar cars. After a smooth start the students of the University of Leuven drove in second position. After the team had a flat tire the Belgian team lost three places. The five best ranked teams are close to each other. “Everything is still possible”, the students say.
Today, the start for a 3000 kilometre race for solar cars through the dessert was given in Darwin, Australia. The Belgian Punch Powertrain Solar Team started as fourth in the challenger class. The 45 participants left the centre of Darwin and immediatly ended up in heavy traffic. Professional race driver Bert Longin kept his head cool. Jarno Van Hemelen, Team Manager: “When we started everything went extremely smooth. Traffic lights were green at all times, we could leave the city centre easily and climbed towards second position. An ideal start you could say.”
The students from Leuven were chasing the University of Michigan, but then something went wrong: “I don’t know what exactly went wrong, but an unknown object got inside the wheel cover and caused a flat tire” says race driver Bert Longin who was driving the solar car.
After two flat tires in the previous edition the team practiced this scenario a lot. The tire change went fluently and lasted only ten minutes. Unfortunately, three teams caught up and could overtake the Punch One.
“This is very unfortunate off course. But the good news is that the first five teams are really close to each other. If we didn’t had a flat tire, we would probably be second at the moment. Tomorrow is a new day and we are confidend that we will catch up with the others.” thus Jarno Van Hemelen.
The engineering students drove 622 kilometres of the 3000 kilometre long race. If everything goes as planned they will finish in Adelaide on Thursday.