Testing mishap: Solar race car unveiling postponed

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The unveiling of the UNSW solar race car Sunswift Violet tomorrow, Thursday 14 September, has been postponedp

The car experienced a mishap while undergoing race testing at the Sydney Motorsport speedway in Eastern Creek late on Tuesday. No-one was hurt, but the car was damaged, and repairs are underway.

Sunswift Violet, a sleek four-seat sedan designed and built by engineering students at UNSW, was going through intense speed braking tests when a bolt on the left-hand front suspension fractured, causing the car to drop onto the roadway and skid for some 30 metres.

Driver James Welch, 20 – a UNSW Photovoltaic and Solar Engineering student from Moruya, NSW – diverted the car into the grass, preventing more extensive damage to the underside of the car’s carbon-fibre monocoque. There were another three students aboard at the time.

Mark Hoffman, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering, said challenges are a learning opportunity: “The car is operating at the cutting-edge of what’s possible, and the students putting it through strenuous testing ahead of a race where they will face intense conditions, so it’s no surprise they will face setbacks,” he said. “That’s what an engineering degree should be about, learning about demanding, real-world challenges.”

Sunswift Violet will be UNSW’s entry to the World Solar Challenge, battling 47 teams from around the world in the 3,021 km race from Darwin to Adelaide from 8-13 October 2017.

It is the sixth-generation solar car created by the UNSW Solar Racing Team Sunswift, built for practicality, speed and endurance, combining cutting-edge technology with modern comfort.

The Sunswift team holds the world land-speed record for an electric vehicle, recognised in 2014 by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, when their previous vehicle – Sunswift eVe – travelled at an average 100 km/h over a distance of 500 km on a single charge.

This broke a record that had stood for 26 years, and was recognised with a world record trophy.

The car will now be unveiled at a photo-opportunity for media on Friday, 22 September at 8am; details to follow.  


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