After a three thousand kilometre race, the team arrived in Adelaide, South Australia, behind the competitors from Leuven. After being allowed to start eleventh at the start on Sunday, the team started a real catch-up race. During the first day of the race, it already overtook eight teams and also during the following days it caught up with the leader from Leuven. Yet in the end, the Dutchmen could not get a grip on the Belgian solar team.
All or nothing
With forty kilometres behind the Belgians during the last night stop, Solar Team Twente knew it had to give everything during the last 250 kilometres to the finish. So the team set off at high speed on Thursday morning, but due to heavy traffic and roadworks, could not put as much pressure on the Belgians as hoped.
So the Twente student team finished second, twenty minutes behind the Belgians. And that is not what the Tukkers came for but an achievement in itself. After numerous setbacks in which it suffered damage to the car and equipment due to termites, it had a rough preparation in which it was delayed. Then, when a forest fire threw a spanner in the works during the most essential day of testing, chaos seemed complete.
Yet the team remained optimistic and put their shoulders to the wheel together. The students managed to get the car ready in time for the race. Even during the three-thousand trip, RED X – the Twente solar car – proved to be a fast, reliable car that had few faults and was stable on the road in heavy gusts of wind.
Best Dutch team
Solar Team Twente competed in the World Solar Challenge together with the Dutch solar teams from the universities of Groningen and Delft. After Delft and Groningen qualified third and fourth respectively, the Tunisians passed both teams without any difficulty. The students from Groningen finished seventh and the team from Delft finished three hours behind Twente in third place.
The Belgians also made a strong car this year. Both cars matched each other in many ways. It was the Belgians who had an extra weapon this year. Although it was called the World Solar Challenge, the Belgian car had an extendable, rotating fin that allowed them to sail on the wind. “The fin could probably have made just the difference but other conditions also play a role at such a distance. The coin had unfortunately just fallen the wrong way in the last few days.” Says team manager Tim Woertman.
Besides the defeated feeling within the team, pride prevails above all. “That we finished second here so close behind the Belgians is very sour, because as a team you work towards winning for fifteen months”. Tells Woertman. “But when you see how far we have come and that together with Leuven we finished so far ahead of the other teams, we can be proud of our team! We gave it our all together this year.”