The first day of the Sunsprint is devoted to testing the cars on the UNSW track. This is usually the first time students get a chance to see if their cars not only meet the Sunsprint guidelines but also whether their designs are able to get around the track.
For our students it was the first time they had seen the track live. They had seen footage from the 2011 event but until you see the track up close you don’t understand how easy it is for a car to leave the track and get damaged.
This is also a chance for the judges to see how closely the cars meet the guidelines. The cars undergo a ‘scrutineering process’ by the judges where solar panels are measured for their power output. Once the panels are measured the cars are weighed and then a set amount of ballast is allocted to ensure the cars meet the guidelines. Our car was allocated 2.1kg of ballast!
The team was a little devastated after the ballast allocation as the early runs around the track proved quite exciting. Our car was fast and the only worry was how we were going to keep it on the track! The ballast certainly helped us stay on the track but it also slowed us down. In the end it was the same for most teams with some allocated more than us.
The testing was punctuated with time trials to ‘seed’ the cars for the race day on Saturday. Our car performed well finishing around the middle of the field after the three sessions. This was a great achievement from our boys.