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Solar racers take day-long break in Winnipeg

July 23, 2005

WINNIPEG, Manitoba--Western Michigan University's solar car Sunseeker remained in sixth place as competitors in the North American Solar Challenge paused for a day of rest and recharging in Winnipeg, which is 1,633 miles into the 2,500-mile race.

With just a few miles to go before crossing the Canadian border,the Sunseeker team team began Friday charging the car's battery pack before the 7:45 a.m. official start of racing for the day. By 10:40 a.m. (CDT), Sunseeker was across the border and into the official Winnipeg checkpoint on the grounds of Red River College--just moments behind Principia College and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The University of Minnesota remains in first place with a cumulative time of 38:45:09, running 27 minutes ahead of its closest competitor, the University of Michigan. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is in third place, followed by the University of Missouri-Rolla and the University of Waterloo. The rankings do not include any time penalties that may be assessed for rules violations.

WMU's Sunseeker is firmly in sixth place with a cumulative time of 43:58. The seventh place team from Principia College is more than an hour behind. Of the 18 cars still in the race, 13 made it to Winnipeg by the close of Friday's sixth day of racing.

The solar cars are on display today in Winnipeg, as team members take a break before the 9 a.m. (CDT) start of racing Sunday. With clear skies for the day, all of the teams will begin Sunday's racing with fully charged battery packs.

"The car has been great mechanically and electrically. The team is functioning well. If the sun stays out, the rest of the race will be fast," predicts Abraham Poot, Sunseeker team advisor.

The North American Solar Challenge began July 17 in Austin, Texas, and is scheduled to conclude Wednesday, July 27, in Calgary, Alberta. At 2,500 miles, it is the longest collegiate solar race ever held. More than 30 cars from the top engineering schools in the United States and Canada entered cars in the event. Of the 20 cars that passed rigorous qualification requirements, 18 remain in the race.

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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