Strong winds flip cars competing in the World Solar Challenge

Oct 16, 2019 11:21 AM ET
  • A solar car competing in the World Solar Challenge has rolled over on the Stuart Highway, just north of Coober Pedy in South Australia.
Strong winds flip cars competing in the World Solar Challenge
Image: ABC News/ Claire Campbell
The driver was taken to hospital in Coober Pedy as a precaution, but has since been released.

Strong winds blew the car off the road and into the spinifex as it was travelling at 100 kilometres per hour.

The car, belonging to Dutch team Twente, was leading the race.

The team is assessing the damage to determine whether they will be able to return to the race later today.

Less than half an hour after the crash, a solar car from team Sonnenwagen was also forced off the road by strong winds about 30 kilometres north of Coober Pedy.

A group of men carry a solar vehicle
PHOTO: Gusty winds caused a solar car from team Sonnenwagen to roll 30 kilometres north of Coober Pedy. (Twitter: Sonnenwagen Aachen)

No-one was injured and the team is also assessing the damage.

Race officials imposed an 80 kph speed limit after the crashes, which meant the teams could not chase each other.

However, the restriction was later lifted when weather conditions improved.

A team from Western Sydney University was forced out of the race yesterday when a strong wind gust badly damaged its solar panels.

Severe winds also uprooted Belgium team Agoria's car, also while driving at 100 kph. The driver narrowly escaped injury.

Event Director Chris Selwood said even the strongest, most well-prepared team could be impacted by Mother Nature.

"All drivers are well which is our priority," he said.

"I wish them the very best and a safe journey to the finish line — where I look forward to welcoming them."

Strong winds impacted campsite

Overnight, the winds were so strong that tents at some of the team's campsites were blowing away and extra measures had to be brought in to protect the solar cars.

The fastest cars are hoping to reach Port Augusta tonight.

There are 44 teams, made up of mostly university students, from more than 30 countries competing in this year's World Solar Challenge.

The teams set off from Darwin on Monday on the 3,000 kilometre trek to Adelaide.

The race has been held biennially since 1987, promoting sustainability and solar technology.

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