Top Dutch Solar Racing braces itself
Top Dutch Solar Racing is preparing for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. During this challenge, they will drive 3000km across the Australian Outback. The challenge is to finish as fast as possible on solar energy alone. The team is already in Australia preparing for the challenge. Starting this week, the team is already driving the entire route in simulation form during the Trip Up. The race itself starts on October 22nd.
The team behind the Green Thunder is preparing for the big moment after a year and a half of preparation. It all has to come together here in Australia. Three and a half weeks ago, the first team arrived to begin final preparations. "These weeks have been quite a tumultuous period for the team" says Rick Eichelsheim, team manager of Top Dutch Solar Racing. "Our container with parts arrived much later, giving us less time to build. That's why the last few weeks have been extra busy. The schedule is shorter, it's tough, people are tired. We have spent whole days trying to get everything done and we have said goodbye to days off. Yet we remain driven. We are all working towards the same goal: we want to become world champions."
During the Trip Up, the team tries to mimic as many scenarios and circumstances as possible that could occur during the race. Alumni of the team have developed a roadbook for this purpose. In it, all the control stops are mapped out as they happen in the race. Rick: "Control stops are places where you are obliged to stop. So in the simulation we do this and wait for half an hour. We simulate as many factors as possible. How does the car handle the conditions? And the team? Do you stop as a whole convoy if someone becomes unwell or do you keep going? We would like to have answers to that. Ideally, you would like the race to be as predictable as possible and make all the mistakes right now."
Before the race can begin, scrutineering and qualifying will take place. During scrutineering, everything is checked from head to toe. Here, the team has to provide documentation, argue choices and make sure everything goes by the book.
Qualifying takes place at Hidden Valley Raceway. Here, all teams drive a lap to see who has the fastest solar car. "Here we see how the car performs in slightly different conditions. You always try to find the balance between a car that performs well in the race, but also during qualifying", says Rick. At the Raceway, they will find out if they succeeded. Rick is in good spirits despite the setbacks and is looking forward to the challenge ahead. "It's certainly not like Prince Constantijn says. Groningen does not lack ambition. If you don't aim for the tio, you're never going to make it. Sure, there are ups and downs, but we have moments that we celebrate. That brings power".
Top Dutch Solar Racing is a multidisciplinary student team consisting of MBO, HBO and WO students from different fields of study. Together they build a solar car to compete in the international Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The team works together with governments, educational institutions and the business community to realise the project. This time, the team consists of students from Hanzehogeschool, the University of Groningen, Noorderpoort, Alfa College, NHL Stenden and HAN University of Applied Sciences.
Photo by Top Dutch Solar Racing
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