The Road Ahead : December 2013
DEC 2013/JAN 2014 THE ROAD AHEAD QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 55 FEATURE | MOTORING IT'S BEEN 14 years since Queensland had an entrant in the bi-annual World Solar Challenge, when SunShark finished in third place. But on October 6, 2013, a 12-strong band of engineers, mechanics, IT gurus and students from the Queensland University of Technology joined forces under the banner of Team Arrow to take on 43 teams from around the world in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Dubbed "the dark horse" prior to the race, the multi-million dollar rivals only became curious about the Brisbane- based team with its comparatively miniscule budget of $100,000, after it successfully won pole position by breaking the lap record at Hidden Valley raceway in Darwin. Team Arrow completed its state-of- the-art vehicle, Arrow1, just weeks before the start of the race, leaving little time to train. "Our first day on the race, we completed close to 600km. That's the furthest we've ever travelled in Arrow1 and we still had another 2400km to go," team manager Cameron Tuesley said. I work as a media advisor at RACQ and, along with my colleague, event coordinator Kyle Williams, was along for the journey as part of the motoring club's sponsorship. My role was to the long road down TEAM ARROW FLEW THE QUEENSLAND FLAG WITH DISTINCTION IN THE RECENT BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE. handle media liaison for the Queensland team, with Kyle given the task of helping with team logistics. "We were told before the race that success in the World Solar Challenge was a combination of effort -- 50 percent was the effectiveness of the car and the other 50 percent was purely logistics," Kyle said. "We drove nine hours a day, relying on the weather gods to give us enough power to recharge, and we managed to do all that in 41 degree heat." As trying as the conditions were, the team was determined to savour the rare opportunity the race presented. We'd had it fairly easy compared with some of the other teams who didn't survive the 100km winds through Coober Pedy, or another who had their support car ignite into a fire ball. It wasn't until the final 100km run into Adelaide that Team Arrow questioned its 'steady speed' strategy. Sitting in seventh place, we were fairly confident we would be the first Australian team over the finish line, as we'd not seen our Aussie counterparts for the majority of the race. But a radio message from Team Arrow's chase vehicle suddenly had team manager Cameron Tuesley worried. "We got word that the New South Wales team Sunswift was right on our tail," Cameron said. "They radioed to inform us they were just two kilometres behind us, travelling at 80km/hr, and intended to overtake. "We had been cruising at 70km/hr and had 20 percent of our battery power left. It was a decision to ramp up the speed and risk running out of battery, or let them take over and lose our title as the winning Aussie team. After 3000km, we all wanted that win." Team Arrow's lead driver Chris Ahearn, former amateur racing car driver, was given the call he'd been waiting for since the beginning of the race. "Chris, drive it like you stole it." Team Arrow held out Sunswift, finishing seventh, making it the first Australian team to cross the finish line. STORY LAUREN RITCHIE MAIN IMAGE: ARROW1 UNDER THE OUTBACK STARS. INSET, FROM TOP: OUT ON THE ROAD. DRIVER CHANGE. CATCHING SOME RAYS. (COURTESY CHRIS AHERN, KICKTHECOWPHOTOGRAPHY.COM). FOR A MORE DETAILED VERSION OF THIS STORY, GO TO ROADAHEAD.COM.AU.
February March 2014