University of Minnesota finishes 9th in 1995 World Solar-Car Rallye in Akita, Japan

Ogata-mura, Japan -- Aurora-II, the University of Minnesota's solar vehicle entered in the 1995 World Solar-Car Rallye, finished in 2nd place in the Junior Class which contains High School and University teams. The team finished in 9th position overall after three good days of solid running.

The two races are different, but still stress the importance of solar assisted transportation for the future. In Sunrayce 95, the fastest cumulative time over 1,200 miles will be declared the winner, while in the 1995 World Solar-Car Rallye in Akita the winner is the team with the most distance covered in 3 days of 8 hour racing for a total of 24 hours. Team's positions in class and overall are determined by their number of laps completed in the available time. Laps are done on a closed track which is 19.3 miles(31 km) long, and does not have any public road intersections thus making the race one of endurance. The race ended on July 30 at 4:00 p.m. in Ogata-mura, Japan.

Their are three different classes: 'Free', 'Stock' and 'Junior.' The 'Free' class has no technological limitations, while the 'Stock' and 'Junior' classes have to use commercially available lead-acid batteries. 'Junior' class also has to use less efficient solar cells than the people in the 'Stock' class.

On July 27, the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project qualified Aurora-II for the 3rd annual World Solar-Car Rallye in Ogata-mura, Japan. The team of eight students left the United States on Sunday July 23rd, 3 weeks after finishing second in the American solar car race, Sunrayce 95.

"The team has been very busy verifying their technical understanding of the changes made to Aurora-II before the start of this race, and in this new race environment." said Jessica Gallagher, Co-Project Manager. "We set a goal for our first day that we wanted to maintain our starting position overall, and/or climb higher in our class. We accomplished both of these with solid team work."

The team's fastest lap during the first day was 32 mph (52 kph). "While this speed is slower than the average speed used in Sunrayce 95, the races have two technical differences which prevent us from performing at the same speeds. The reduced battery capacity, and the frequent driver changes will limit our fastest speed on the track." commented Jessica Gallagher.

During the first day of the race the team moved from 5th to 2nd in the Junior Class, the team became one lap down from the class leader. Overall, the team is in 8th position, and is three laps down from Honda's Dream which is the leader in the Free, unlimited, Class and overall race leader.

On July 30 Aurora-II, still maintained its second place in Junior Class but dropped to ninth position overall after two good days of solid running.

Jessica Gallagher, Co-Project Manager, comments on the team performace: "As far as the drop in overall position, there are several teams which have great vehicles. However, these teams in the first day did not seem to know how to run their vehicles at the optimum performance."

Jessica Gallagher continues to say, "In terms of race performance, the team completed 11 laps or 205 miles(330 km) on Saturday. We did this in less time than we did on Friday, and also used less power in the process. As of July 30 in this race the car had completed 410 miles."

On July 31 the team continued its strong showing, and maintained it's second place position in the Junior class. The team's finish in 9th place overall after three good days of solid running was a goal set by the team before the race.

"The team has been very consistent, working together, and we followed our game plan." comments Jessica Gallagher. "The team is elated about its 9th place finish overall, and our 2nd place finish in the Junior class."

Jessica Gallagher said, "In terms of race performance, the team completed 11 laps on Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday we finished 10 laps. In this race Aurora-II has completed 621 miles, and done so in three days which would taken nearly five days to do so in Sunryace 95."

In first place of the 'Free' class is Honda's Dream, which is also the overall race winner.