Belgians a sigh of victory in Australia World Cup final
Port Augusta, Bridgestone World Solar Challenge
Wednesday, 25 October - The Innoptus Solar Team will start tomorrow as leaders in the final 213 kilometres of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the world championship for solar cars. Their main competitors, the team from Twente, briefly came closer today but could not sustain this overtaking race and slowed down. Despite the strong wind, the Belgians were able to maintain their speed thanks to the ingenious fin on their solar car.
Duel of the low countries
The KU Leuven students started this morning with a 24-kilometre lead over their main competitor, the team from Twente. Today, the Dutch continued their catch-up race from yesterday and were able to make up a lot of kilometres throughout the day. At the end of the day they had to abandon their catch-up race and the Belgians were able to increase their lead again. The team from Twente stranded 39 kilometres behind the Belgians. Both teams walked a different path strategically over the past few days. Today, the KU Leuven students were able to reap the rewards of their followed strategy.
"Solar Team Twente reduced the distance to our team in the first part of the day. Then the wind picked up even more, but thanks to our secret weapon, the fin, we were able to remain very stable. This allowed us to increase our lead again. Now we are standing here enjoying our last evening charge about 200 kilometres from the end with a small 25-minute lead."
Ebert Kiekens (22, Geel), Electrical Engineer at the Innoptus Solar Team
This morning it soon became clear that the wind was going to play a significant role. It picked up even more in the afternoon. The Belgians were able to maintain their speed by using their fin. This fin provides extra stability so they did not have to slow down. This allowed them to rebuild their lead.
However, the engineering students did not come through this windy day unscathed. The powerful crosswinds caused the wheel covers to come off their solar car, the Infinite, twice. These hoods cover the wheels and keep the car streamlined, resulting in lower energy consumption while driving. Fortunately, the team members were well prepared for such situations and were able to intervene quickly to fix this problem, so little time was lost during this procedure.
"Due to a combination of strong crosswinds and the big road trains driving on the road, a wheel hatch came off the car today. Fortunately, we are well prepared for this and the technical crew was able to fix and replace it quickly."
Stijn Vos (24, Mortsel), Aerodynamic Engineer at the Innoptus Solar Team
Tomorrow promises to be an exciting final sprint. Both teams are evenly matched. It comes down to keeping a cool head. Every second counts, there is no room for error. With 213 km to go, both teams will go all out. The team members are confident in their strategy. They hope to be first across the finish line in Adelaide tomorrow, taking home their coveted world title once again.
"The competition here remains super strong at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, but if we keep our cool tomorrow and keep following our own strategy then I absolutely believe we can bring the world title back to Belgium again."
Cedric Verlinden (23, Holsbeek), Team manager at the Innoptus Solar Team