Belgians beat wind to claim World Solar Challenge

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The Innoptus Solar Team, from the University of Leuven, has claimed honours in the Challenger Class, completing the journey from Darwin to Adelaide with a time of 34 hours, 4 minutes, and 41 seconds – 48 minutes faster than their 2019 win.

The Innoptus, which features a PV panel with 257 standard-sized interdigitated back contact solar cells, set the pace in the Challenge Class from the outset, reaching speeds of more than 100kph.

The Belgian’s aerodynamic Infinite, with a fin designed for stability, seemed to revel in the windy conditions that proved tough for many in the event.

Innoptus crossed ahead of the Netherlands’ Team Twente RED X which finished with a time of 34 hours, 24 minutes, 58 seconds. Dutch team Brunel in Nuna 12 arrived in Adelaide around two hours later, to take third place.

German team Sonnenwagen in Covestro Adelie were in fourth place before being forced to retire after a crash south of Port Augusta. The team said the driver lost control of the vehicle after a road trains had passed.

In the Cruiser Class, that demands production-style vehicles capable of transporting multiple passengers, the unseasonal headwinds caused havoc with none of the teams able to complete the 1,000km second stage, the first time this has happened in the history of the class.

Half the field had made the first time point, driving nearly 1,000km before charging, but they were unable to complete the second stage.

At the end of the first stage Australia’s Sunswift, in Sunswift 7, was leading the field.

The Cruiser teams are expected to complete the final stage today before presenting for practicality judging on Saturday. The on-road scoring component will be calculated from the last completed stage.

This is the first timethe Challenge has been staged since 2019 with the 2021 event cancelled due to the complexities presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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