View Full Version : Australia's Solar Auto Race Kicks Off

09-24-2005, 07:40 PM

Sep 24, 8:31 PM (ET)

DARWIN, Australia (AP) - Energy-efficient cars from 10 countries started the World Solar Challenge on Sunday, a 1,190-mile race from Darwin in Australia's north to Adelaide in the south.

The Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands, which won the last two races, led the 21 solar cars across the start line for the expected four- to five-day trip down the center of Australia.

Other favorites in the race are the Sky Ace Tiga from Japan and Australia's Aurora entry.

The cars, traveling only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, are expected to reach Adelaide late Wednesday or early Thursday. Nuon, which won in 2001 and 2003, holds the record of 32 hours, 39 minutes of total race time.

With spiraling world petrol prices, race director Chris Selwood said this year's race takes on added significance.

"It will definitely focus people's attention on petrol alternatives," said Selwood. "The almighty dollar always can help effect elements of change."

There are also 10 cars taking part in a so-called "Green Fleet" section of the race. Those vehicles are powered by hybrid fuels and are judged solely on their fuel efficiency and not on speed. Selwood says some of the Green Fleet cars are expecting to travel 60 miles on three liters of diesel fuel.

The Persian Gazelle, a solar car from Iran, did not show up ahead of the race start, and organizers were uncertain of its whereabouts. It would have been the first race entry from the Middle East, said Selwood.