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Sunseeker nears Canadian border in sixth place

July 22, 2005

CAVALIER, N.D.--Western Michigan University's Sunseeker remained in sixth place in the North American Solar Challenge as the WMU team neared the Canadian border but stopped late yesterday for a much-needed recharge of its battery pack.

Five cars, led by the University of Minnesota, which retained its first-place position, made it across the border at the Pembina-Emerson port of entry into Canada and on to an official race checkpoint in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The unofficial race status, which includes no time penalties, shows the top five cars in this order, based on their arrival at the Winnipeg checkpoint: Minnesota, University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Missouri-Rolla and University of Waterloo. Winnipeg is 1,633 miles into the 2,500-mile race.

The rest of the competitors' times and standings are based on the cars' arrival times at a checkpoint in Fargo, N.D., which is 1,382 miles into the race. Principia College and the University of Missouri-Columbia are close behind sixth-place WMU and also are set to begin racing today just a few miles from the Canadian border.

Sunseeker team advisor Abraham Poot says the team began yesterday's leg of the race with a strong run that brought the team to Fargo quickly and shaved some 25 minutes off the time gap between Sunseeker and the lead car from Minnesota.

"We were cruising at 60 mph and still sending 3 amps into the battery to charge," Poot reports. "But after we left Fargo, we were trying to beat a weather front that put us just under the edge of a cloud. We tried all afternoon to pass the edge and get some sun, but when a route detour took us further under the cloud, it was apparent we would not get enough sun to continue to Winnipeg."

The WMU team stopped late in the afternoon and spent the night in Cavalier, N.D. Team members were up early today to charge the Sunseeker array before the 7:45 a.m. start of racing. The team will move on to the border crossing, then head north to Winnipeg, which is scheduled as a mid-race stop for all teams to rest and recharge before racing resumes at 9 a.m. (CDT) Sunday.

The race began July 17 in Austin, Texas, and concludes Wednesday, July 27, in Calgary, Alberta. Of the 20 cars that began the race, 18 are still in the running.

Go to www.americansolarchallenge.org and click on "GPS Tracking" to see the current location of each car along the race route.

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

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