Soleon heads down under

By Chris Tait

Two months after the North American Solar Challenge finished in Calgary, the University of Calgary Solar Car Team will be leaving for Australia’s World Solar Challenge.’While the newly-revised race route of the NASC is now the longest of its kind in the world, the Australian WSC is by far the most coveted. Spanning 3,000 km in less than four days, the pace of the WSC far exceeds its counterpart and garners international participation everywhere from Taiwan to Germany. Over 20 teams from 11 countries are slated to participate in this year’s race.

Another important difference between the races is the WSC’s less stringent safety regulations, which often can affect a car’s design.

“Some teams choose to forego a helmet, which is allowed in the WSC,” said Team Manager Colby Bell, who has taken over management duties from former Team Manager Rashaad Sader. “This decision, during the design process, drastically impacts aerodynamic design. If we had chosen to design our car for a helmet-less driver we could have shaved four inches off the top of the car, making it more sleek and aerodynamic.”

The race’s safety inspection process begins on Sept. 22, with the main event beginning Sept. 25 and running from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. Though there is a world of difference between the race in North America and the one in Australia, Communications Manager Laurie Heilman-Bell pointed out some of the similarities.

“We’ll be traveling in the opposite direction, but like the NASC, we will still experience a decrease in temperatures as we progress through the race,” she said. “Darwin is hot and humid and the temperatures progressively cool down as you travel south to Adelaide.”

The cooler the solar panels can be kept, the more efficiently they collect energy from sunlight, which will play a big part in the race.


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