WMU News

Sunseeker rapidly closing on leaders

July 21, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- The top six teams in the 2003 American Solar Challenge set a blistering pace Sunday, July 20, with two teams--race leader Missouri-Rolla and sixth-place Western Michigan University--covering the 330-mile distance from Albuquerque, N.M., to Flagstaff, Ariz., in less than seven hours.

WMU's Sunseeker steadily whittled away at the time separating it from the three teams immediately ahead of it in the race. At the Flagstaff checkpoint, the WMU time was just 38 minutes behind the third-place team from Principia, 25 minutes behind fourth-place Waterloo and 21 minutes behind fifth-place Missouri-Columbia. Missouri-Rolla and WMU posted the fastest times for the day, averaging 51 mph and 49 mph, respectively, on the steep climb to Flagstaff.

Sunday's day of racing came after a mandatory layover in Albuquerque. All competitors were that city by the afternoon of Saturday, July 19, for the stop at the University of New Mexico. The entire 20-car field restarted the race there at 9 a.m. Sunday, leaving Albuquerque at one-minute intervals, based on team standings, and heading for Gallup, N.M., before moving into Arizona.

A wrong turn onto an expressway late Thursday cost WMU's Sunseeker a critical 45 minutes and dropped the solar racecar from fifth to sixth place as official standings were posted in Albuquerque, which is 1,420 miles into the 2,300-mile race route.

According to team advisor Abe Poot, Sunseeker was well on its way to a Thursday night arrival at the Albuquerque layover when the team turned onto an expressway too early and lost 45 minutes getting back to the point where it needed to be. Unable to make it to Albuquerque by the official close of that race day, the team stopped for the night in Moriarity, N.M., and traveled the last 50 miles to Albuquerque Friday, July 18. The WMU team used the layover to fully charge the Sunseeker's batteries and prepare for the rigorous next leg of the trip.

To follow the July 13-23 race as it unfolds, go to the ASC Web site at <www.formulasun.org/asc>. The site includes a map of the route with information about stops and the location of the race leader. A daily update link carries information about the last know location of each team and discloses current standings, miles completed and time elapsed.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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