After overcoming many obstacles such as missed connections, cancelled flights, changes to freight schedules, both B-7 and the remaining 14 members of our race crew have somehow found their way to Darwin. (Besides our electrical lead Zhe, who is still stranded in Tokyo due to a cancelled flight, but he will be here tomorrow).
No need to adjust for the 14 hours of time difference, we got to work right away. Over the next few days, we will try to put B-7 back into running condition and obtain the permit to test B-7 on Australian road.
Here we would like to thank everyone who has helped us with this huge logistics challenge.
Thank you Topax for the crate, we look forward to sleeping on top of the crate during the race.
Out of Alice Springs, the first control stop was Ti Tree. The drive to Ti Tree was, surprisingly, covered with thick clouds. If this happens during the race, we would be really sad but luckily for the route survey team, the overcast weather meant less sunburn and cooler breezes.
From Ti Tree, we set out for Devils Marbles which is another marvel of the Australia Outback, located conveniently just beside the Stuart Highway. Though these rocks are not as big or majestic as the Uluru. The smaller rocks definitely have their own beauty.
From Devils Marbles, it’s only 100km the next control stop, Tennant Creek. About 10km outside of Tennant Creek, we realized that we had a tire blow out on the trailer. Under the blazing hot sun, we had to inspect the damage and come up with an action plan. In theory, we should easily be able to replace the damaged tire with the equipped spare tire but unfortunately we didn’t have the correct wrench size for removing the wheel nuts.
Luckily, some locals passing by the Stuart Highway came to our aid. Here we would like to thank Dylan & Wade who not only had the correct tools but also stayed with us and helped us remove the damaged wheels and installed the new one.
From there, we drove safely from Tennant Creek to Dunmarra. Due to the time that we lost on the side of the road, when we arrived in Dunmarra it was already getting very late in the day and it’s not safe to drive in the Outback anymore. Once again we were saved by nice Aussies. In this case, the owner of the Dunmarra Roadhouse has generously agreed to let us stay at the Dunmarra caravan park free of charge. Thank you Gary!
The last day of driving was simple and drama free. From Dunmarra we reached Katherine. The segment from Katherine to Darwin was very hilly and we carefully noted all the big and small hills and compared with our elevation data.
On Friday afternoon, we arrived in Darwin. Though this marks the end of the race route survey and our first encounter with the Australian Outback, this is only the beginning of our World Solar Challenge Adventure. Stay tuned. The fun has only just begun!
On Monday, Sept. 9, the advance team departed Adelaide to begin the drive up to Darwin to survey the race route. We are very excited to have this opportunity to verify our route GPS data and elevation data that we will use for our race strategy program. We will also take notes about road conditions, cattle grids, possible camp sites and anything else worth noting on this 3,000-kilometres of wilderness.
Another important goal for the survey is to check out every control stop. There are slight changes to the control stop locations every year. Knowing exactly where we need to stop will make sure that we don’t waste time on the race trying to navigate.
By the end of the third day, we have crossed South Australia and made our way to Alice Springs.
After over 30 hours of traveling across the globe, our first team has landed in Adelaide! Our main goal in Adelaide is to pick up rental vehicles and trailer. Then, we will drive the race route in reverse to Darwin where we will meet up with the rest of the race crew and B-7.
Thanks to our new sponsor Moveyourself.au who has sponsored the team with a flatbed trailer which we will use to transport B-7 in its shipping container from Darwin to Adelaide.
After we’ve picked up the vehicles, we started preparing for our big trip to Darwin. Grocery shopping, getting an Australian phone, and studying the route. We are excited to have this opportunity to survey the race route and collect real life data about road conditions.
Until next time, see you in Darwin!
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