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Monday, 25 October, 1999, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Aussies win solar prize
Aurora 101 averaged 72.96 kilometres an hour
An Australian entry has won the World Solar Challenge.

The privately funded Aurora 101 from the state of Victoria won the gruelling event for solar-powered vehicles which runs right across the Australian continent from Darwin to Adelaide.

The Aurora completed the 3,010-km (1,866-mile) course in 41 hours and six minutes. The time was nearly eight hours off the race record because vehicle was slowed by overcast conditions en route.

A Canadian entry called Radiance, from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, came in second in 41 hours and 33 minutes, ahead of Sunshark, from the University of Queensland, in 41 hours and 50 minutes.

It was a highly competitive race with the lead changing hands several times.

"It's just delightful an Aussie can actually win this," said winning the Aurora team captain Dave Fewchuck.

The Aurora averaged 72.96 kilometres an hour to win the race, using similar power levels to those that would drive a hair drier.

The competition lacked some of the high-profile entrants of previous years. Honda, which averaged nearly 90 km/h to win in 1996, decided not to take part.

"There are a variety of reasons, I suppose," said event manager Chris Selwood. "Maybe the economic situation in Japan, or maybe they think they've got nothing to prove."

Selwood said reliability of the vehicles was the major advance in this year's challenge, which was established in 1987 to showcase the potential of renewable energy.

"What we have seen in the past is a lot of problems with the sophisticated electronic control systems and so much work has been done in that area, enabling these guys to be racing really close together and to get here [to the finish]," he said.

"In every event in the past we have had a 30% attrition rate over the first three days," he said. "This time, we have had four withdrawals out of 40. It's a big advance."

The BBC's Joanne Shoebridge
There is plenty of fuel in the Australian desert
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