After a year of demanding physical conditioning for their drivers and a complete rebuild of their vehicle, a team from the University of Calgary will soon get the chance to race 3,000 kilometres across the Australian outback, competing against teams from around the world at the Veolia World Solar Challenge from October 16 to 23.
“We have spent so long preparing and put in so much hard work, we are really looking forward to the actual race and racing against world class teams and hopefully placing in one of the top spots,” says Brigitte Sullivan, the team’s spokesperson.
To train for the harsh conditions, including intense heat, which can impair judgment, the drivers went through rigorous fitness training that included hot yoga. Because of the race rules the team was forced to rebuild its car, changing the solar panels they were using from space-grade cells to less expensive silicone ones. “It made us think outside the box,” Sullivan says. “We encapsulated the cells into the top of the car, which should make it more efficient.” They also shaved 250 pounds of weight from the car, which Sullivan says could drop their race time by two minutes per pound.