Back-to-back defending champion Tokai University is eyeing its third consecutive win as the biennial solar car race kicked off in Darwin, Australia on Sunday. Participants are to cross the island-continent from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south, covering 3,000 km (1,860 miles). Each car is expected to depend only in solar energy, although teams are allowed to store a small amount of power in a battery.
There are 38 participants this year and World Solar Challenge director Chris Selwood wished all participants “a safe journey as they take on 3,000 kilometers of Australian outback, chasing the sun all the way to Adelaide.” The 2011 race witnessed flames from wildfires through central Australia, causing the race to be put on hold until the region was cleared. Meanwhile, the Philippine team had flames from its own car when its battery exploded.
As for Japanese team Tokai University, defending their title is all they could and should think of. Teams from Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific are more than eager to take the title from them. But a race crew described the Japanese team to be “happy with the aerodynamic performance of their solar car.” Race organizers also described the Tokai University team to be “quietly confident.”
Now on the second day of the race and as of this writing, Tokai University is currently in second place behind Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands. Both are already 1302 km away from Darwin. Another Japanese team currently in the top twenty is Kanazawa Institute of Technology. The solar race is expected to be completed this Sunday.