On 04.08.2017 our 40-foot Reefer sea container made its way to Australia. Such a sea container has inner dimensions of approx. 12 m x 2,3 m x 2,6 m. So there is a lot of room!
But we also needed the space, because we took everything with us to Australia! Probably the largest content in the sea container was our trailer, which is over 6 m long. Next to that we had tools, camping equipment and spare parts. The most important cargo, however, was our racer battery.
The transportation of batteries by air is very difficult to virtually impossible. You have to pay attention to a lot of special features and observe regulations. That’s why we decided to ship our battery to Australia by sea freight. For this purpose our container was also tempered. In addition, the battery was packed in a special box inside the sea container.
In order to have as much time as possible in Germany to test our Sonnenwagen, we have decided to bring it by airfreight to Australia. In addition to our Sonnenwagen, there was also further equipment in the transport box built specifically for us. Our transport box for air freight has dimensions of 4.7 m x 2.1 m x 1.7 m.
The transport box, in which our Sonnenwagen and other equipment are transported by airfreight, has been specially designed for us. Our solar car fits precisely to the millimeter and offers space for other parts in all remaining corners. The box has, among other things, a huge drawer.
Journey to Australia
From our packer Anton Klein GmbH in Hennef we went to Amsterdam first. There, our transport box was loaded into the plane and brought to Kuala Lumpur. From there we went to Sydney. Via Adelaide the way led directly to Darwin – the start of the race – where our first crew was already waiting for our race car.
Our first seven members left for Down Under. The anticipation was enormous! They travelled from Brussels via London and Manila to Darwin. After such a journey the jet lag sits deep, but already on the second day we started working.
Becoming familiar with the environment
The first group has just started organizing important things. These included accommodation, the workshop and talks with other teams. The jet lag was quickly forgotten and the project was once again worked hard on, especially on the driving strategy, because our solar car wasn’t in Darwin at that time.
Receiving the car
In addition to the driving strategy, the main task was to receive both sea and air freight. This is a special task in Australia, because the rules on importing goods are tough. We had to make a lot of phone calls and ask for more information and help before we finally successfully regained all our sea and air freight from customs.
Less than two weeks later, the second 11-man squad set off for Australia. Again from Amsterdam via London and Manila to Darwin. The local team was complemented by other members and was now working at full speed to get our Sonnenwagen onto the Australian road. Destination: Road approval in Australia.
Since we still needed a lot of tools, equipment and spare parts when the sea container was already on its way, these things had to be brought to Australia in a different way. Each of us got an extra suitcase on our hands. So everyone was now travelling with hand luggage and two suitcases.
Of course, a little spare time was not to be neglected. The team members in Australia have therefore already taken one day off to explore the surrounding area. Parallel to this, hard work continued in Aachen.?
Fewer and fewer members were in Aachen, our hometown. The third group of 10 members left for Australia. Again the suitcases were full, the flight long and faces exhausted but happy on arrival in Australia.
We are driving
The road approval is here and we test as much as possible. We get up at 5 o’ clock in the morning to use the whole day. Last bugs will be fixed and improvements made at all corners. Overall, things are going well!
Our last eight members have set off and arrived in Darwin on Monday, October 2. They complete the team and we are finally altogether again!
There are 38 team members in Australia now and they have to be taken care of. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not so easy! In the morning there are usually oats, fresh fruits and toast. Afterwards everyone prepares sandwiches for the day and the support team cooks dinner for everybody. We have our own team for the organization of the catering.
Now the last preparations have to be made for the race. We continue to work under high pressure and also work several night shifts. We have only one goal, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge! The clock is ticking, less than a week remaining to the start of the race.
We already have the temporary road approval for the first tests in Australia. For the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, however, there is another inspection. This is divided into two sections, static and dynamic inspection. If you meet both of them, you’re eligible to participate in the challenge.
Here the car is examined by a group of officials while it is stationary. Very close scrutiny of the car is taken and a decision is made as to whether the construction will withstand the road conditions in Australia.
Now it’s time to move. Our solar car has to drive an eight, master a slalom course and pass a braking test. A too big turning circle or a brake, that does not work, could mean an early end of the race.
Now it’s time for qualifying. Here, all participating solar car teams compete against each other on the Hidden Valley Raceway. The order in which the program is started is determined. Strategy is also an important issue here: If you want to start first or if you deliberately line up further back to avoid the dangers of driving too fast during the qualifying.
Here we go! Starting shot! We’re off to a 3022 km long race through the Australian Outback.
The finish line is in Adelaide. At the famous Adelaide Square Fountain the race ends with a bath in this well. A refreshing break after hard days in the outback.
A race also includes a party. This applies to the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge as well. Of course, we will not miss this opportunity. No matter how the race ends.