NunaX - the newest solar car of the Vattenfall Solar Team - was forced to retire from the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. The frontrunner was driving the final leg of the 3021-kilometer race through the outback of Australia when the car unexpectedly caught fire. It is the first time in the twenty-year history of the team that the reigning world champion did not reach the finish line.
Photo by: Jorrit Lousberg
The Vattenfall Solar Team participated for the tenth time in the biennial race and was heading for their eighth victory. The driver was able to park the car at the side of the road and was brought to safety.
"I am standing next to a burning pile of carbon," says driver Tim van Leeuwen, one of the four drivers of the solar car. "There is a strong feeling of disbelief in our team. We were driving the last stage towards Adelaide, with less than 250 kilometers until the finish left.
"It seemed we had the wind in our back: we were in the lead, driving 100 kilometers per hour, when I smelled something burning. I asked our chase vehicle if it could be the car, but all measured values appeared normal. It wasn't long before smoke filled up the cockpit, I immediately knew something was wrong."
Cause still unknown
The precise cause of the fire is still being investigated.