Diary Day 5: Sun and disappointment
Today Australia greeted us with a clear sky in the morning. For the first time since the first day of the race, we had an expectation of sun all day long and we could show what our Huawei Sonnenwagen is capable of. We had to do so: Yesterday we drove a lot of kilometers and the next control stop was secured, but until Coober Pedy we had to drive constantly 70 km/h for over 6 hours. Our solar vehicle is designed for this, but with such a low battery level it’s more difficult. After a rich breakfast, delicious as always, we went on.
The race day began without any problems for a long time. We drove faster and longer than ever before. But we were constantly calculating whether we would make it to Coober Pedy by 15:30 race time or not. Every mountain and every valley was included in our calculations and we especially paid attention on unnecessary accelerations. If we would have had this weather the entire competition, we are confident we would have driven much further. Almost all of the support vehicles stayed within radio range to find out the exact status. According to calculations we would arrive 5 minutes before the Control Stop closes and would have to get out, set up the solar cells and run to the Officials.
A few kilometers before Coober Pedy, so far everything went according to our plan, there was another steep climb. That is when the unexpected happened. The car was slowing down. “Christoph, can you speed up?” – No answer. “Christoph, can you hear us? Turn the engine on and off again.”- No answer. “Restart the engine, try again!” We have to pull over to the left. The explanation: Battery empty. The strong incline on the mountain paired with the high speedwas to much for the battery.
We consult each other while the battery is being charged by the solar cells. The scout vehicle is sent to the Control Stop to inform the Officials about our situation. But the officials already started to pack, the control stop wasn’t reached in time.
This means for us that we could not keep up with the top teams this year. The storm from day 2 to day 4 had thrown us too far behind. After 2187km driven with solar energy alone, we missed the checkpoint by only a couple of minutes. We will not let that get us down. Our motivation to show what our Huawei Sonnenwagen is capable of is today as strong as ever. We will finish the race in the Adventure Class driving up to Adelaide and celebrate our great performance on Saturday. Until then, however, it is still necessary to cover a couple of hundred kilometres. The sun is shining, let’s go ?