Delft University's Nuon Solar Team has won the Challenger class of the World Solar Challenge. Its solar-powered Nuna 7 vehicle arrived in Adelaide at 10:03 a.m. on the morning of the fifth day of the event, having led from the front for the full 3,021 km from Darwin, crossing Australia from north coast to south in a total of a little over 33 hours. That puts its average speed at an impressive 91 km/h (57 mph).
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Nuon Team was closely trailed by Team Tokai from Tokai University in Japan. Winners of both the 2009 and 2011 Challenger classes (the event is biennial), Team Tokai ran into difficulty after the final checkpoint, where only minutes had separated the two teams, at once point being forced to stop due to being unable to sustain a safe speed in traffic. At the close of day 5, Nuon Team is the only one to have made it to the finish.
The result is a return to form for the Nuon Solar Team, which won the event in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 with Nunas 1 through 4.
Challenger is the elite class of the event, in which vehicles race from between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day. Apart from a starting allowance of 5 kWh of energy, competing vehicles must make the trip using only solar energy, or energy recovered from the movement of the vehicle itself. The 5 kWh is estimated to be about 10 percent of the total required to make it the entire way.
Nuon Solar Team's overall time was a little behind its 2005 pace, when it completed the trip in 29 hours and 11 minutes achieving an average speed of 102.8 km/h (63.9 mph).
Source: World Solar Challenge (PDF)View gallery - 8 images