Dutch race leader Solar team Twente and provisional 4th place holder German Sonnenwagen have pulled out of the Bridgestone solar race from Darwin to Adelaide after strong wind gusts in central Australia caused the two vehicles to crash on Wednesday.
The accidents this morning forced both teams to withdraw from the race as they limped back to Coober Pedy to assess damage to their vehicles. Dutch champion team Vattenfall is now in the lead.
Thankfully, nobody has been injured by the winds that anecdotally blustered at up to 70km/hr, with a spokesperson for the gruelling 3,000km+ Bridgestone Solar Challenge says that it was a case of “the wrong place at the wrong time” for both teams.
Just before the control stop of Coober Pedy, Nuna passed @solarteamtwente, because their solar car had an accident with the strong winds. We heard everyone was okay, but we were all very shocked. Hope everyone is doing alright. Our thoughts are with you. #bwsc19
— Vattenfall Solar Team (@VattenfallTeam) October 15, 2019
“Twente, the race leader, was caught in a strong wind gust which blew their car and damaged it – they are now not able to continue the race, have gone back to Coober Pedy to assess,” the spokesperson told The Driven.
“4th place holder Sonnenwagen have also had a crash – they were hit by the wind gust and I don’t think they’ll be coming back into event either,” she said.
“It’s just a real shame.”
Before the unfortunate incident happened, Solar Team Twente noted that it would be unable to post video from today’s race because of the strong wind gusts.
Posted images of the Solar Team Twente vehicle and team backed by an angry sky, they noted in their Twitter post that, “We are sorry to say that we won’t be able to provide you with our video footage today.
“Our internet availability is limited here and due to the gusts of wind (70km/h!) we do not consider it safe for us to drive further along the route to find a better connection to upload it.”
We are sorry to say that we won't be able to provide you with our video footage today. Our internet availability is limited here and due to the gusts of wind (70km/h!) we do not consider it safe for us to drive further along the route to find a better connection to upload it. pic.twitter.com/4JtLUcrhBT
— Solar Team Twente (@solarteamtwente) October 15, 2019
Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is yet to issue an official statement on the matter, but it is understood that for now, the race will continue with a reduced top speed limit of 80km/hr until further notice.
We will keep you up to date as more information comes to hand.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.