WMU News

Fifth-place finish is best ever for Sunseeker

July 23, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar racecar turned in a fast finish on the last 91 miles of the 2,300-mile American Solar Challenge July 23, secured a final overall race standing of fifth place, WMU's best ever solar race finish.

The WMU car was the third car across the finish line in Claremont, Calif., finishing the race at about 2:45 p.m. (EDT). The University of Missouri-Rolla, which has held the top spot since the fourth day of the race, was first across the finish line and won the race. Rolla was followed by the University of Minnesota, the race's second-place car. The University of Waterloo finished in third place, Principia College came in fourth.

Final official standings are based on the total time used to complete the route, which started in Chicago July 13 and followed historic Route 66 across seven states to Claremont. The winner, Missouri-Rolla, completed the course in 51 hours and 20 minutes with an average speed of 43 mph. The WMU car finished in 60 hours, 34 minutes, with and average speed of 37 mph.

This is the seventh time since 1990 a team from WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences has competed in the race that pits the nation's leading engineering schools against each other in the event that relies on power from the sun as fuel. A field of 20 cars representing colleges and universities from across the United States and Canada competed in the July 13-23 race. WMU is the only Michigan school to qualify for the race this year.

WMU, Stanford University and the University of Waterloo (Canada) are the only three universities to qualify for and compete in all seven collegiate solar car races held in North America since 1990. In previous races, the WMU team twice finished the course in eighth place. This year, the WMU car enjoyed a pre-race nod from American Solar Challenge officials when it won the Inspectors Choice award as the best overall car in the 2003 race.

The race is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, its National Renewable Energy Laboratory, BP Solar and EDS. Complete race results are available on the ASC Web site at <www.americansolarchallenge.org>. The Sunseeker team will return to the WMU campus Monday, July 28. Members of the community will have a chance to see the car and meet team members the following weekend, Aug. 2-3, when Sunseeker is on display at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Mich.

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

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