ASCEND JOURNEY PART 4 – The Challenge Begins – DAY 1


What a day it was, after years of work and preparation we were finally ready to fly the flag for Deakin University and ACCIONA at the starting line of the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. We kicked off our day super early, waking up at 4:30 am to make sure we were at the starting line by 5 am. Even though the race began at 8 am, we were all set and on point. Today, Angus, Tahj, and Bohan were our solar car drivers, and we had Tolga keeping a watchful eye as our observer.

As the first driver, Angus navigated us through the Darwin local area to the highway. The sight of so many locals waving goodbye and wishing us good luck was heart warming. This show of support genuinely lifted his spirits. Reflecting on the driving experience Angus shared, “Seeing the turnout of the public and students is amazing. I was surprised by how many local people, including students, showed up to support. The car performed very well.”

Our media car members – Janidu, driving, with Nigel and Sunny on cameras – were hard at work. Janidu mentioned, “Overtaking huge convoys and road trains at 130kmph is wild. We overtook so many!” They stopped four times, always making sure to wear sunscreen and position themselves safely to capture the best shots and footage for us and our cars.

Traveling together, especially with a project we’ve put our hearts into for so long, is a thrilling experience. And guess what? We reached our first control stop at Katherine!!

The start of the challenge was a bit shaky, driving and directing a solar car through city traffic was not an easy feat! We were stuck at red lights a few times before leaving Darwin, and for the first 30 minutes, our car had trouble sending data to the chase car. But after a quick wheel cover fix, we were back in action.

We had only minor issues throughout the day, we had a small issue with telemetry early on, but we sorted it out before hitting Katherine. Apart from that, all good! Some tapes were needed on the car’s side, but a thorough fix was done at the control stop. Vibration caused a few screws to come loose, but we managed. At this stage our car’s performance is looking good, especially the battery’s lasting power.

Our media crew is happy and proud. They found that planning control stops on paper and experiencing them, in reality, are two very different things. 

At 6 pm we finally arrived at Daly Waters for overnight camping. Rupert and Josh are in charge of camp logistics and they took the wheel of our big VR vehicle. They radioed other teams every time they overtook them – imagine our huge VR next to their compact cars! They chatted with teams like Flinders University and Durham University. Enjoying the outback view, they took turns driving. If one felt tired, they swapped. These champs got to the campsite first, started setting up, and even helped Sunny and Janidu with dinner preparations. Josh shared, “Tonight, it seems like it’s barbecue night. We’ve been busy setting up chairs, tables, lights. It’s looking great!” 

Overall, today went smoother than we thought. We’re hoping tomorrow will be just as smooth with minimal issues. Stay tuned!