Queensland Team Powers Up For Race To Chase The Sun

Clenergy TeamArrow, which includes seven current QUT students and seven alumni in its ranks, will race teams from across the world to be the fastest car under the sun at the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The biennial challenge tasks 46 teams from 25 countries with completing a gruelling 3,021km journey from Darwin to Adelaide while showcasing the latest advances in solar technology.

Clenergy TeamArrow, one of three Australian teams in the ‘Challenger’ class, will leave Darwin on Sunday (October 18) in their $250,000, 220kg vehicle, capable of reaching a top speed of 126km/h. The solar panels of the solar electric vehicle power a battery pack or can solely power the car, which runs on less power than a toaster.

QUT Mechatronics Engineering graduate and one of the drivers, Amy Gunnell (pictured), said the team were setting their sights high despite their underdog status.

“The 2013 race was the first time we had entered and we were the first Australian car to finish, placing seventh overall. We completed the course in 43 hours last time so this year we’re aiming for under 40 hours and hopefully a top five finish,” she said.

Amy Gunnell and the Clenergy TeamArrow car. “We know it will be tough – some of the top international teams have budgets more than 10 times what we have. We are just a bunch of students and graduates who have built a car that can go really fast but is really efficient.”

Gunnell said the slog across Australia would see the team drive from 8am to 5pm with a cruising speed of about 85km/h.

“You have to be strategic and work out how much time to spend charging versus driving to get the optimal output,” she said. “Last time we had to stop and charge the car on the home straight to Adelaide and crossed the finish line with only enough juice to travel another 250 metres. Our biggest challenge last time was inexperience. We spent two hours on the side of the road after we blew a tyre and other teams would have fixed that in five minutes.

“But we feel better prepared – the car is running brilliantly and we have a great team.”