Dutch win World Solar Challenge

The Michigan Solar Car Team celebrates second place in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge their best ever finish. Images credit Evan Dougherty Michigan Engineering

University of Michigan Solar Car Team finishes 2nd in world challenge

Dominant Dutch team "Nuon" Thursday won an epic 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) solar auto race across Australia's outback for the third-straight year in an innovative contest showcasing new vehicle technology.

The race starts in the northern city of Darwin and ends in the southern city of Adelaide, with cars typically reaching speeds of 90 kph to 100 kph (55 miles per hour to 62 mph). This year's result was never really in doubt, with the team's Nuna 9 solar vehicle leading from beginning to end and crossing the finish line on Thursday two hours ahead of its nearest rival.

The team from University of MI came in the second place with their torpedo shaped "Novum" and their best ever result in Australia.

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The event has become one of the world's foremost innovation challenges with teams looking to demonstrate designs that could one day lead to commercially available solar-powered vehicles for passengers.

But first, the team took the now traditional dip in the Victoria Square fountain as supporters cheered them.

Nuon has reigned supreme in the Challenger Class of the World Solar Challenge since first entering the race in 2001, its most recent triumph coming in a relatively tight 2015 race where it finished 10 minutes ahead of its compatriots Solar Team Twente.

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Nuon team manager Sander Koot said drivers were forced to adjust their strategy after encountering wind gusts of up to 60 km per hour (37 miles per hour) to profit from the winds as if a sailing ship. The team's aerodynamics expert says that the drivers were directed to position the solar auto in a way that enabled it to benefit from the winds just like a sailing ship.

The vehicles are powered by the sun and mostly developed by universities or corporations, with teams hailing from Australia and across the world including the United States, Malaysia, India and South Africa.

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