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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 10:47 GMT
Dutch win solar car race
Nuna, APTN
Nuna's performance set a new record
The Dutch Nuna car has won the World Solar Challenge in Australia.

The solar-powered vehicle crossed the timed finish line on Highway 1 on the northern outskirts of Adelaide at 17:09 and 20 seconds (local time).

It was comfortably ahead of its closest rival, the Australian entry Aurora, which will not make it to the same point until Thursday morning.

Nuna covered the three-thousand-kilometre distance from Darwin to Adelaide in 32 hours and 39 minutes. This just beat the record for the race set by the Honda Dream car in 1996 at 33 hrs and 32 mins.

Steady pace

Nuna, run by the Alpha Centauri Team, averaged a speed of 91.81 kilometres per hour (57.04 miles per hour), compared with Honda's average of 89.76 km/h (55.77 mph).

"Our direct opponent, the Australian Aurora, which won the 1999 World Solar Challenge, was chasing us for three days," said Wubbo Ockels, a former European Space Agency astronaut and adviser to the Dutch Alpha Centauri Team, consisting of eight students from the universities of Delft and Amsterdam.

"Three times they overtook us. But at the end of each day we took care to be just slightly in advance. I kept telling the pilots to drive carefully and steady, so as to save everything for the final day.

"Today, we started ahead of the Aurora with a lead of only a few minutes and a distance of 17 km (10 miles).

"Now that we have finished it seems that we have beaten them by 80 km (50 miles). People are so excited here. They expected the race to end tomorrow. Nobody could believe that we could accomplish it in just 4 days."

Ceremonial finish

Nuna still has to cross the Torrens Parade Ground ceremonial finish on Thursday and come through post-race scrutineering to officially take the 2001 title. No-one expects this to be a problem.

The Dutch car should arrive at the ceremonial finish shortly after 9:15am.

At the end of day four, the University of Michigan entry M-Pulse was reported to have camped on the road between Port Augusta and Port Pirie.

Solar Miner, another US car, was in fourth place with Solar Motions, also from the US, in fifth.

Big bucks

The World Solar Challenge dates back to 1987, when 23 solar cars from seven countries took part.

It was initiated to motivate research and development into harnessing solar energy for future transport needs.

The race has since grown into a major event, which attracts big universities and research labs. Several teams have the multi-million-dollar backing of top motor manufacturers.

The very first race was won by General Motor's Sunraycer vehicle, which averaged nearly 67 km/h (41 mph).

This year's event has brought together 38 solar cars representing 11 countries.

Map, BBC
 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Images from day four
The lead cars power towards Adelaide
See also:

19 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Dog's disastrous day
25 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Mad dog heads for the Sun
25 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Aussies win solar prize
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