WMU's Sunseeker ends national race in eighth place

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Sunseeker solar race car

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar race team is coming home from the American Solar Challenge with an eighth-place finish and the national collegiate event's annual sportsmanship award.

The 1,652-mile cross country race ended July 21 in St. Paul, Minn., after solar racecars built by engineering students traveled from Rochester, N.Y., through eight Great Lakes States, including Michigan. The University of Michigan captured first place. Iowa State University and Principia College finished in second and third places, respectively.

WMU's final day of racing was among its best, with the team crossing the finish line in front of the Minnesota capitol just eight minutes after the race winner.

A total of 18 teams from the nation's top engineering schools were in the mix at the start of pre-race qualifying events. The race start saw 16 teams qualified to compete, and of those, only 11 finished the race in St. Paul. Four of the 11 were able to cover the course completely under their own power. The other seven, including WMU, were compelled to trailer their vehicles at several points, incurring time penalties that were factored into the race results.

The winning time was 44 hours and 36 minutes. The longest elapsed time of 122 hours was registered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and included trailering penalties. Sunseeker's time was 103 hours with penalties included.

The WMU team was expected to be back in Kalamazoo by late July 22.

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