Sunday, October 02, 2005

Finish Line

Hey all!

We made it! That's right, SunStang 2005 crossed the finish line at 3:23 pm on the eighth day of the race. It has been an absolutely amazing adventure for all of us! We covered over 2000 km on just the power of the sun! The team worked hard for the last week, camping out under the stars- covered in flies- but we hung in there and stayed optimistic right till the end. The resilience, the "never give up" attitude that our team is known for showed through out the race.

At this time, we still don't know our official standings in the race. However, no matter what, not a single one of us here really are worried about that. We knew going into it that things were going to be an up hill battle for us.

September 22: Scrutineering:
This was an interesting day for us! We spent most of the previous night trying to get the loose ends tied up on the car. However, we had suffered a blown motor during a practice hot lap for qualifying. While coming out of turn 5 on the Hidden Valley Raceway Circuit, I came around hard at about 65 km/h. Just as I was accelerating out of the turn, the motor seized and we pulled the car over safely. One of the magnets on the motor came loose (a common problem with Older NGM motors).

What always amazes me about solar car raycing is the sportsmanship between teams. Within hours of our blown motor, we had a spare motor and controller loaned to us by MIT for qualifying, a motor loaned to us for the race from University of Michigan, and another motor in the air headed for us from the University Of Waterloo! Now this is the stuff that excites me. Working with the other teams, getting to know the way they work and how they solve problems, and the lasting friendships made from these events will always be the highlight of the event for me.

So on to scrutineering! Scrutineering involves the car passing through various inspection stations; body and sizing, array, safety (egress), on road (mechanical), electrical, and support vehicle inspection. The team did a phenomenal job with improving the driver compartment in this car. We had some excellent times for egress and myself and tom were out in less than 7 seconds and Rory was out in about 12 seconds- well within the 15 second time limit.
The car passed through all the stations with flying colours and were clear to proceed to qualifying on the 24th.

Qualifying September 24th:
This was a hectic day! SunStang was one of the first cars on the track for qualifying. As we were using MIT's backup motor, the team decided to take it easy and not push the car through the qualifying laps. Before we blew our motor, we had been clocking close to 2 minutes and 30 second laps which would have been good for top 10. However, as we took it slow around the track on the backup motor, our time dropped off significantly and we started further back.

After completing the qualifying laps, we were onto stability and braking tests. The idea is you must get the car up to 35 km/h , then swerve around some cones while maintaining speed, and follow it up with a break test (stop from 35 km/h to 0 km/h in 12.5 meters). We had no trouble passing this test either. We were cleared to race at the 2005 WSC!! We even got a nifty license plate with our team number '96' on it!

The Race:
The race started from the Northern Territory Parliament Buildings, through Darwin, and onto the Stuart Highway which is what we would be traveling on for the next 8 days!

We started off slow, getting used to driving the solar car on the wrong side of the road! We maintained a decent speed of up to 60 km/h on our first day, covering nearly 200 km into our first checkpoint in Katherine. We had to trailer part of the way that day as we had some adjustment problems with our steering.

The next day was very hard on the team. We were all tired from working on adjusting the steering but things just didn't seem right. We continued on for about 50 km that day until we decided to pack it in till the next check point. The adjustments we made the car very difficult to handle on the road and so out of safety, the team decided that we should trailer to the next pit stop and reassess our plan of action. We were all quite down that day. At times we felt that there was no hope and we should just call off the race. But thanks goes out to Dave and Greg who kept a positive attitude and made sure we did everything we could to get SunStang on the road again.

Day 3 was Awesome! We made some modifications and we were flying. We all were feeling quite confident. The drive took us from the second control point at Dunmarra, right through Tennant Creek checkpoint (with 20 seconds to spare!!!) and on stopping outside of Elliot township. I drove nearly 5.5 hours that day, covering over 350 km on my own. We covered over 470 that day. We were regularly cruising at over 70 km/h! It was AWESOME!

Day 4: Another great day. We Started from Elliot and covered over 400 km, ending at the Tropic Of Capricorn for the night! We camped out there and promptly brushed our teeth, so we could say "we brushed our teeth on the Tropic of Capricorn!".

Day 5:
We went from Tropic of Capricorn and headed down to Alice Springs checkpoint and then onto Cadney homestead. We stopped just short of Cadney covering another 400 km...

Well that's all I can say right now... I'll add more when I have some time! We need to return Michigan's motor!

Seeya later!



Blogger Craig said...

Congrats SunStang! Glad to see that the race was such a success.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Don said...

Congrats, guys!!! Great to hear your success in finishing the race!!!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Blake Connoy said...

A little tenacity can go a long way!
As you wrote Imran, regardless of the standings, you guys were amazing. Great work!

12:15 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Well done - and I'm happy to hear you all got to experience the same feeling of helping/getting help - also happy to note that many of the last team continue to track your progress!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Dean of Engineering said...

Dear Sunstang team,

this is quite an accomplishment!! Sincere congratulations to all of you for a job well done. You are making us proud!

I have sent to all faculty and staff your latest message with the news of the crossing of the finish line.

Looking forward to hearing your stories and seeing your pictures.

Franco Berruti

10:41 PM  
Blogger Salman said...

Congratulations Sunstang!!!

This is a massive achievement, and all credit goes to the sheer dedication and perseverence of the team throughout the years, especially by Imran. I thank you Imran for not giving up despite all the hardships, as it has allowed you, and all of us, to see this day.

I hope to see Sunstang continue to make us proud for many years to come.


3:10 PM  
Blogger Imran said...

Thank you Dean Berutti, fellow class mates, alumni and team members! We really appreciate all your support and i'm quite flattered by all your comments!

Keep reading the posts and look out for the SunStang 2007 World Solar Race Team. They will represent the 20th anniversary of the WSC and the 15th anniversary of when Sunstang became a reality in '91/'92.

Cheers and hope to see you all soon!!


2:08 AM  

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