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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Dutch solar car wins famous race
Nuna II, Esa
The Dutch car is backed by European Space Agency technology
The Nuna II vehicle has won the 2003 World Solar Challenge in Australia for cars that are powered only by sunlight.

The Dutch machine completed the 3,010 km race distance in just 30 hours and 54 minutes - a record for the event.

The competition which runs from Darwin to Adelaide and attracts entries backed by big motor manufacturers is seen as a test bed for solar cell technology.

The very best cars with their sleek designs will regularly top 100 km/h in the heat of the Australian outback.

Nuna II also won the 2001 race and came back this year with a revised shape and improved aerodynamics.

Built by students from the universities in Delft and Rotterdam, the car employs developments that have come straight out of the European Space Agency (Esa).

Better than before

These include ultramodern solar cells, high performance batteries and space plastics that were originally intended for use on spacecraft.

Aurora, AFP
The Aurora vehicle was second
For example, the very same batteries are now travelling on Smart 1, Esa's lunar probe which left the Earth to map the Moon last month.

Chris Selwood, World Solar Challenge event manager, said the 2003 cars were of a higher standard than previous years.

"This has been probably the most successful World Solar Challenge with all 22 teams still remaining in the event," he said.

"A couple of teams encountered minor technical problems on day two but have been able to continue."

Cars of the future

The Australian Aurora entry reached the finishing line in second place. A US team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was in third place.

Nuna, AFP
A record-breaking run for Nuna
All the vehicles left Darwin on Sunday. The slowest cars will not arrive in Adelaide until Sunday next.

The World Solar Challenge dates back to 1987. It was initiated to motivate research and development into photovoltaics for future transport needs.

The cars run in the daylight and for as long as their batteries will allow them in the dark.

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

In contrast, Nuna's official average this year was 97 km/h (60 mph).

Map, BBC

Dutch win solar car race
21 Nov 01  |  Science/Nature

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