Aussies Shine in Solar Challenge Winners Circle

ADELAIDE, Australia, October 22, 1999 (ENS) - The Aurora 101 solar powered race car has crossed the finish line first in the World Solar Challenge race from Darwin to Adelaide, claiming the title of fastest solar car in the world. Aurora's average speed was clocked at 72.96 kilometers per hour (45.23 miles per hour).

The winner Aurora 101 crosses the Australian outback.
(Photo courtesy Aurora Vehicle Assn.)

In a close, exciting finish, the Aurora 101 came in at 8:37 this morning and Radiance, the Canadian car from Queen's University in Ontario, came in just 12 minutes later, averaging 72.17 kilometers per hour (44.74 miles per hour).

Sunshark, designed and built by the engineering students of Australia's Queensland University, wasted little time taking third place, 19 minutes behind Radiance.

Only 33 minutes separated the top three teams. For a race that spans 3,010 kilometers and takes 41 hours, this is equivalent to a photo finish in a two-minute horse race.

An unprecedented 11 teams crossed the finish line today, by far the greatest number of cars to finish in a single day since the first World Solar Challenge in 1987.

Radiance, the second place finisher from Canada (Photo courtesy Queen's University Solar Team) The World Solar Challenge is the only solar car event in the world to traverse an entire continent. The cars started in Darwin in the Australia's north on October 17 and ran along the Stuart Highway to Adelaide on the southern coast. Forty solar powered electric cars from 11 countries were entered.

After six days crossing the Australian outback and maneuvering through towns and smaller cities, the leaders travelled the final 15 kilometres
through rush-hour traffic in Adelaide.

The next five finishers are:

a.. 4. Desert Rose 15 (Australia)
b.. 5. KIT Goldren Eagle (Japan)
c.. 6. Tamagawa Super G (Japan)
d.. 7. Spirit of Canberra (Australia)
e.. 8. Manta GTX No. 6 (USA)

Race observer Jeff Cotter from the Centre for Photovoltaic Engineering at the University of New South Wales said the most amazing part of the finish today is the way nearly all the barriers between the teams melted away soon after reaching the finish line. "Tired, hungry and dusty students and teachers soon began joking and reminiscing with their competitors, and soon, aches and heartbreaks were healed."

Third place finisher Sunshark from Queensland University (Photo courtesy Queensland University Department of Engineering)

Events of the race were retold from opposing viewpoints, technical notes were compared and tactics and strategies discussed.

"It didn't take too long for cheer to turn to friendly boasting and gentle verbal sparring, and I'm sure that, as this year's competitors fall to sleep, they'll be dreaming of the next big race, the next World Solar Challenge or the next Sunrayce," Cotter said.

The Aurora Vehicle Association Inc. which produced the winning car is a 20 year old Melbourne based non-profit group focused on being the world’s best in solar powered electric cars.

Aurora 101 has been in each of the four World Solar Challenge races held once every three years since 1987. Although this is Aurora's first place finish, it has been Australia’s most successful entry in each race, and was the winner of the Citipower Sunrace ‘98.

Aurora's solar array is equipped with some of the highest efficiency solar cells in the world. Cells of this type, developed in Australia at the University of New South Wales Photovoltaics Special Research Centre, hold the world's record for efficiency.

These cells were manufactured especially for the World Solar Challenge. They have a top surface which is indented in the shape of a grid of inverted pyramids, and a double layer of anti-reflection coating, to enhance light collection.

Aurora 101 encourages technical collaboration with many of Australia’s leading scientific research establishments and universities and attracts highly capable young people interested in developing the future.

Complete technical specifications on the winning Aurora 101 are online at:

Race information including final placements and links to individual teams is online at:

© Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.