The first few vehicles of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge have now completed the 3,000km journey from Darwin to Adelaide amid much fanfare arriving in Adelaide.
Belgium Punch Powertrain Solar Team completed the race in fifth position. The team reached speeds of up to 110km per hour during the race but had lost time on day one with a flat tire and day four with a broken rear wheel shaft.
The team had remained positive throughout the race with the expectation of a top three position finish with Mr Jarno Van Hemelen, team manager, being quoted as saying: "We won’t give up.
"There are still a lot of kilometres to come. We are still going full throttle. We’ve got a great performing car so we can’t do anything less than believe in our chances to catch up."
Team communication during the race was highly improved from the last event due to the HF radio communication.
Mr Karel Winderickx, public relations and events specialist for the Punch Powertrain Solar Team said: "With the HF radio communication we were able to speak throughout the race with weather and competitor information that allowed the team to accurately strategise our next move whilst on the road, it’s been a great addition to the team this year and we look forward to partnering again."
The main benefits of HF radio communication were:
- ‘Eagle’ was able to establish an internet connection whilst on the road to download the latest Bureau of Meteorology satellite weather information and communicate it back the 50km to 150km to ‘Brains’.
- As ‘Eagle’ was required to be between 50km to 150km in front of the solar car, many times during the race ‘Eagle’ was within close proximity to the competitor’s solar car in front of them and could communicate information to ‘Brains’ that was critical to race strategy decisions in real-time.
- Unlike with satellite communications, which require the ‘caller’ to be stationary when making and receiving a call, HF radio communications was maintained on the move.
- HF radio is free to air so there are no call bills for the use of the communication service throughout the race.
The ‘Eagle’ vehicle was fitted with the Barrett 2050 HF transceiver, 2019 auto tuning HF antenna, 2018 mobile magnetic loop HF antenna, 2065 dual antenna switch, Barrett 2020 email, fax and data system and Barrett vehicle tracking.
The ‘Brains’ vehicle was a short-term hire vehicle and a temporary installation of the 2050 HF transceiver and the 2018 mobile magnetic loop HF antenna had been undertaken for this event.