Source: TU Delft/Twitter
Source: TU Delft/Twitter

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.

The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but unfortunately breaks a 20 year streak for the Vattenfall Team in completing races.

Driver Tim van Leeuwen spoke with Dutch news site NOS, saying (translated from Dutch), “I am standing next to a burning pile of carbon.”

“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.

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