Saturday, October 08, 2005

SunStang Race info Day 6 till finish

So sorry for not posting earlier. I spent the last week in transit from Adelaide to Sydney and then in the air to Toronto. Yes, that's right, I'm back at home and taking a break!!! :) I hope there are others still reading this blog!!! :)

So here is the rest of the story of what happened day by day:

Day 6:
So like I mentioned, we made it near Cadney homestead the previous day, driving at nearly 70 km/h for the whole time. However, the celebration was short lived when we discovered that our battery pack capacity was well below what was expected. We were at less than 20% capacity. The great thing about lithium batteries is that they have loads of capacity. However, the problem is that it's difficult to find out how much capacity has been used until it's too late. This is what happened to us. We noticed that the battery pack voltage was suddenly dropping quickly which was a sign of a failing battery pack.

All the hard driving over the last few days was the result of this. We had to make the tough decision to spend the rest of day 6 after reaching Cadney to charge the battery pack. This essentially put us further back and forced us to have to trailer the next stage of the race.

Day 7: We decided to trailer to Glendambo road house in the morning. With a nearly full battery pack, we went ALL OUT! The Glendambo to Port Augusta stage has some SERIOUS downhill stretches! It was a real thrill going down hill at 85 km/h!!! I slowed down on a few hills to maintain safe braking distances for the solar car. We covered 250 Km in 3.5 hours and made it just short of Port Augusta.

Day 8: The last day of racing of the 2005 World Solar Challenge! We made it into Port Augusta at 9 am. We had the trailer team go ahead and prepare our Hungry Jack's meals for our checkpoint stop! As Rory would probably say "there's nothing like an Aussie Burger for breakfast". We had lots of fun with the checkpoint staff. We even shared some of our meals with them! :)

Rory was driving for most of the day. We were about 200 km out of Adelaide when our canopy latch became loose. The roads were very rough for that period and so due to the vibrations, the latch finally came off! :( Combined with the large cross winds, the canopy came right off. Luckily, with our roll cage design, the canopy was able to fly over the driver, ensuring that the driver was not at risk. Rory did an amazing job at keeping control and pulling over safely.

At this stage, the team could have driven without it. However, our of safety for the driver from possible debris coming up off the road, I suggested to the team to pack it in. Everyone was onboard and I'm glad that we made the decision as a team to finish our driving at that time. We still made it to the finish line during race hours which allowed us to officially finish the race!

All the blood sweat and tears from the last two years finally came to an end at that moment. The team all signed the mangled canopy as a symbol of what this project was all about. Never give up was our attitude and we followed through with it right till the end. Not a single one of us are upset by our finish. Not many people thought we would have developed a car, let alone race it. Nobody ever imagined that we could have driven in the race, let alone complete it, driving over 2000 km on our solar power. This is an amazing accomplishment on all of the team members! We Made it!!!!

We could not have made it this far with the support of our sponsors. The support-material, monetary and technical service- were all instrumental in making sure we competed. We obviously would like to thank Jack Cowin and Hungry Jack's for ensuring we made it to the race. His support for all of the SunStang WSC teams were the only reason why we have been able to compete at this world class event.

Support from the local companies have also been amazing. UGS PLM solutions provided us with their state of the art Unigraphics NX CAD/CAM/CAE software as well as cash. With the use of UG NX, the team was able to develop the car in the same software as some of the largest engineering firms from across the world. Not only was this an advantage for SunStang, but it was an amazing chance for students to learn the skills necessary in a real engineering environment. These designers are using programs that they wouldn't have a chance to use until after they graduate. This head start will ensure our team members will have excellent opportunities in their future endeavors.

Meridian Magnesium has continually provided monetary and technical assistance to the team. They have been our largest monetary sponsor from the London Area. JMP engineering , General Dynamics, and Tesma International have all supported us with funds as well.

From all of this, I would hope a for a few things for SunStang. The blood, sweat and tears from the last few years has been hard on all of us, and very few have been able to maintain the rigorous duties needed to keep the project going. I hope that the success from this race will lead SunStang to a sustainable future, where the team can focus on the important duties of designing and manufacturing a safe and reliable world class vehicle, instead of working on the side 'projects' that we have come to get accustomed to which has eaten up valuable weeks, and months over the last year. I hope with our success in garnering significant media attention, the team will now be able to have people come to them to support SunStang, instead of having to reach out for everything! This in-turn will ensure that SunStang will always be in the public eye, and hence make things easier for the future leaders of this amazing project. By no means do I think this will be easy. However, the hard work by the teams from 2001 till present have ensured that SunStang is back and that people are watching!! Thanks must be given to Ben Esposito, Garrett Cole, Doug Binkley, Fallon Reid, Jessica Rodriguez, Tom Gwozdz Taha Amiralli, Ray Julien and all the others from the 2003 and 2004 race teams. The countless sacrifices( academic, family, monetary) made by these team members to race at those races made it possible for our 2005 team to have the will and confidence to compete at the World Solar Challenge.

Well I believe that is all from me! Tom will have more to add I believe and the others on the team as well. Plus, pictures should be updated soon as well!!!

Cheers, and G'day Mate!



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