Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mock Race Update

We're three days into our mock race and Continuum has already run 1400 kilometers of our 2400 kilometer course. Our first three days on the Stuart Highway have been a definite departure from our testing on tracks and roads in the US. Road trains, 40+ degrees Celsius temperatures, increased solar radiation, and straight/flat roads are just the beginning. It has been great to see Continuum operate in its true habitat. Our array loves the Australian sun, the car remains stable in the constant cross winds, and the telemetry system continues to relay vital information to our chase vehicle. While calibrating and tuning different systems on the car, we've been troubleshooting our windowed fairing system as well as some unexpected steering feedback. We've spent a lot of time on the side of the road working through tire changes and small repairs, many of which are coming with the use of new components since arriving in Australia. The engineers are paying special attention to our front suspension & wheel motor to help understand what's happening.

Our campsite is located just off the side of the road approximately 200 km South of the Northern Territory/South Australia border. Operations has found a field that's clear of all rocks and brush, leaving a clean sheet of powdery red soil for all our equipment, vehicles, and tents. This seemed like the perfect site until winds picked up from the east, carrying clouds of red dust and depositing it in, the semi, our eyes, our food, literally everything. Our yellow shirts are now mostly orange. Conditions became so harsh and the sky was so clouded with red dirt that charging was rendered nearly useless well before sunset. After finishing dinner, we saw that all our cups had gathered a small pile of sand at the bottom. Good thing that the punch was already red.

When it's not sand it's bugs and there are plenty here. The tent where we work on the car's array is covered inside and out with gnats and moths, so many that they're almost causing as large of a problem as the sand outside. Many of the systems within Continuum require clean, stable working environments for proper maintenance and we're quickly learning how hard that is to achieve in the outback.

Our drivers are catching much needed rest after long days in Continuum. All are doing well even after spending up to 5 hours in the car at a time. With no air conditioning and temperatures reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius during the day this is a rather impressive feat!

We're very fortunate to have the company of Trevor and Ann Marie Philbey during another trip across the Outback. Trevor is driving our prime mover for the third time since 2001 while Ann Marie prepares amazing food for the whole race crew every day.

We still have a ways to go so we're looking forward to passing along more updates as the days progress.




Blogger Dana said...

OMG HOW COOL! Glad to hear everything's progressing well! Good Luck Team KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!


September 26, 2007 at 3:55 PM  

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