The Nuon Solar Team was fast out of the blocks on day one of the World Solar Challenge, and with day two now done and dusted it is showing no signs of slowing down. The Dutch solar racing powerhouse again rolled into camp ahead of its competitors, though just 24 minutes separates the top three after 1,300 km (800 mi) of racing.

In its 30th year, the Challenger Class of the World Solar Challenge is an endurance race designed to stretch the limits of solar and electric vehicle technologies by having teams race purpose-built cars 3,000 km (1,864 mi) across the Australian Outback.

With temperatures around 36° C (97° F), defending champions Nuon took an eight minute lead over Japanese rivals Team Tokai on day two. Nuon's car is quite different in design to Team Tokai's vehicle, whose Tokai Challenger favors a more aerodynamic shape than the Nuna 9's slightly more boxy form. The latter does, however, hold a three minute lead heading into day three of racing.

Australia's Western Sydney Solar Team finished third on day one, but have now slipped back to seventh, with Holland's Solar Team Twente claiming the podium position for now, albeit 24 minutes behind its Dutch compatriots and with a time penalty still to come. Coincidentally, the two Dutch teams were locked in a tight tussle for the last World Solar Challenge, with just 10 minutes separating them by the time they rolled across the finish line in Adelaide.

The race overall is close, with US solar champions Team Michigan just six minutes behind Solar Team Twente in fourth place. And things could be about to get interesting, with stormy weather forecast and likely to be a factor as the teams head into day three of sun-powered endurance racing.

Japan's Tokai Challenger in action during the 2017 World Solar Challenge(Credit: Bridgestone World Solar Challenge)

Meanwhile, over in the Cruiser Class where competitors earn points for things like energy management and payloads, Holland's Team Eindhoven, with five people onboard, have shot out to a solid lead with an efficiency score of 80, while Australia's UNSW Solar Racing Team Sunswift is behind them on 40.6.

The Cruiser Class leaders are expected to cross the finish line in Adelaide on Friday local time, while the racers in the Challenger Class are expected in town on Thursday. We'll be following the progress of the event throughout the week, so stay tuned to New Atlas for more.

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