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Sunseeker crosses finish line in sixth place

July 28, 2005

CALGARY, Alberta--Western Michigan University's solar car, Sunseeker, crossed the Calgary finish line of the North American Solar Challenge in sixth place and was welcomed to the city by thousands of Canadian citizens who turned out for the final hours of the 2,500-mile race.

Besides the sixth-place finish, the Sunseeker team also earned the "Best Design" award presented at post-race ceremonies in Calgary.

Steve Yurk, an aeronautical engineering major from Portage, Mich., was at the wheel at noon (MDT) yesterday when Sunseeker finished the race in front of a crowd estimated at one point in the day to number more than 10,000. The final 188-mile leg of the race saw throngs of spectators lining the roads from Medicine Hat, Alberta, to Calgary.

"Momentum," the University of Michigan's solar car, was first across the finish line at the University of Calgary and was the overall winner of the race that began July 17 in Austin, Texas, with 20 teams competing in cars powered solely by energy from the sun. Coming in a close second was the University of Minnesota, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Missouri-Rolla, University of Waterloo and WMU.

Michigan's winning cumulative race time was 53 hours and 59 minutes. The WMU team completed the 2,495-mile course with a cumulative race time of 63:04, more than two hours better than the seventh-place team from Principia College.

The race, the longest of any collegiate solar race ever, followed U.S. Route 75 and the Trans-Canada Highway, with checkpoints in Weatherford, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; Topeka, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Fargo, N.D.; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Brandon, Manitoba; Regina, Saskatchewan; and Medicine Hat, Alberta. Sponsors of the event this year were the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Natural Resources Canada.

This is the second consecutive top-six finish for Sunseeker, which also earned the award for best design in the previous Solar Challenge, in 2003. WMU, Stanford University and the University of Waterloo are the only three schools in North America to have entered and completed all eight collegiate solar races since the first, in 1990.

Go to www.americansolarchallenge.org for a series of post-race features, including a photo gallery that covers the entire race and daily "Reports from the Road" for a behind-the-scenes look at solar racing.

More WMU News coverage of 2005 Sunseeker

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

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