In what is proving to be one of the most challenging races in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge’s 30+ year history, another leading team has had to pull out of the race after a vehicle caught fire.
Eight-time race champion Vattenfall Solar Team was leading the Challenger class on the final leg of the 3,000+ kilometre race from Darwin to Adelaide when the incident occurred.
Thankfully, as with Wednesday’s events when wind gusts caused two other contenders to withdraw after rolling, all team members are safe, with driver Tim van Leeuwen able to park the car before a team member helped bim out and brought him to safety.
“We can confirm that all team members are safe, emergency services have been contacted, and we are taking steps now to ensure the safety of all participants,” tweeted the solar challenge organisers this morning.
We can confirm that all team members are safe, emergency services have been contacted, and we are taking steps now to ensure the safety of all participants. https://t.co/PYboPJPQtP
— Bridgestone World Solar Challenge ☀️ (@WorldSolarChlg) October 16, 2019
The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but unfortunately breaks a 20 year streak for the Vattenfall Team in completing races.
On the last day of the @WorldSolarChlg NunaX caught fire. Fortunately driver Tim van Leeuwen is unharmed. The accident means that for the first time in twenty years the @VattenfallTeam will not finish. The reason for the fire will be investigated in the coming days. #bwsc19 pic.twitter.com/jTfQrgB5m2
— TU Delft (@tudelft) October 17, 2019
“The shock and disbelief are good here. We drove the last part to Adelaide and still had 250 kilometres to go.”
Yesterday, fellow Dutch team Solar Team Twente and German Sonnenwagen also had to pull out of the race when a gust of wind caused both cars to roll and were damaged.
Current leaders in the Challenger class are now Agoria Solar Team from Belgium in first place, Japan’s Tokai team in second followed by Michigan’s UM Solar Car team, with the race expected to be completed shortly.
— Bridgestone World Solar Challenge ☀️ (@WorldSolarChlg) October 17, 2019
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.