A day in the life of a World Solar Challenge driver
Driving in the World Solar Challenge is a unique experience, requiring the preparation of a space mission, the technical expertise of a systems engineer, and the physical exertion of an endurance athlete. The finely tuned competition vehicles demand a driver’s complete concentration. When skilfully driven, solar cars are the most efficient and beautiful vehicles on the road.
An Aurora driver’s day during the World Solar Challenge is long and tiring, yet highly satisfying. The day begins before sunrise, when the entire Aurora team wakes and sets up the solar car for the morning charging session.
Upon release of the car at 8am, the two Aurora drivers share driving duties for the next nine hours, with each driver spending four to six hours at a time behind the wheel. Driver changes are strategically planned at control stops; extra stops out on the road cost race time and are to be avoided!
While in the car, a driver may experience cockpit temperatures up to 50°C, which requires a slow, steady intake of cold water to prevent dehydration and regulate body temperature. A driver may also have to regularly countersteer against strong side winds, especially in South Australia.
After the team pulls over at 5pm, an Aurora driver’s day is not yet over; there is still more work to do. Until sunset the entire team checks over the solar car and addresses any maintenance issues. Only after the evening charging session ends and the car is put away in the trailer can the two drivers go to sleep!
By Andris Samsons, Aurora Solar Car Team