Bridgestone World Solar Challenge: Darwin and Scrutineering


The previous post recounted Illini Solar Car’s journey from Melbourne, Victoria to Darwin, Northern Territory. Once in Darwin, Argo underwent pre-race inspections, know as scrutineering, and preparations for the race. The team was in Darwin from September 28th until the beginning of the race on October 8th.

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After obtaining our garage space in the Hidden Valley Motorsports Complex, we went to work assessing the damages on Argo and making small fixes in order to prepare the car for some track runs. The electrical team was plagued with battery management issues that took a few days to work through, with extra parts from Stanford's team, but after that the car was running and we went straight to the track as soon as we could. On October 2nd we joined all of the other American teams at a barbecue hosted by Michigan Solar Car. The other teams at the track were very generous and helped us out when they could, so we felt welcomed into the solar car community.

Work in Garage

October 3rd was mostly track testing at Hidden Valley. We reached top speeds of 75 km/h and both drivers got used to handling the car around the track as well as the figure-8 course. Then we spent some time preparing Argo to pass static scrutineering which took place the following two days.

Argo departed for static scrutineering a little after noon in Darwin on October 4th. The first round took the entire afternoon but we only had a few minor issues to fix in order to return and be re-scrutineered the next day. On the way out of the convention center where they held scrutineering, our trailer got a flat, but thankfully NIT solar was there to lend us their jack.

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We returned to static scrutineering the next day after making the minor adjustments, and our electrical system and batteries passed inspection! We were relieved to be closer to moving on.

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The morning of October 6th we got the last needed green dot to clear static scrutineering! Later that day we also finished the figure-8 part of dynamic scrutineering with a blazing time of 13.82 seconds. That’s 4.18s less than the requirement and was the fastest time run of any team there! Needless to say we were pretty excited.

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For dynamic scrutineering on October 7th, Argo was required to pass hot lap, slalom, and brake tests along with the previous figure-8. The warm-up for the hot lap went smoothly, but during the timed run around the track, connection issues stalled the car. Fortunately, the driver was able to reset it and drove the rest of dynamics with one out of two motors running. We easily passed slalom and brake tests and received our special 50th anniversary World Solar Challenge license plate.

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Finally, on the morning of October 8th, we joined 37 other teams from all over the world to begin the drive 3000km down Stuart Highway. Scrutineering had tested our strengths and weaknesses as a team and we felt ready to start the challenge.

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