1995 World Solar-Car Rally in Akita, Japan Report

Less than a month after Sunrayce 95 Aurora-II was participating in the 1995 World Solar-Car Rallye in Ogata-mure, Japan. In that short time 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. Overall goals were set that we wanted to maintain our starting position overall, and/or climb higher in our class.

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.


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. 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'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.

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 Saturday 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. 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. In only two days the car had completed over 410 miles.

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

The team was very consistent, working together, and followed the game plan made before the start of the race. The team is elated about its 9th place finish overall, it's 2nd place finish in the Junior class.

The numbers speak for themselves. In terms of race performance, the team completed 32 laps. In this race Aurora-II completed 621 miles, and done so in three days which would taken nearly five days to do so in Sunryace 95.