Day 2 Nationals

Sunday began a little worse than Saturday with light drizzle and very cool conditions prevailing. Teams huddled under the tents trying to keep warm and get the cars ready for a tough day of racing. Getting the most out of the gearing and solar panels looked the order of the day. Speed would be hard to come by and it might be more a test of endurance.

Round 1 saw the top seeds matched against the slower cars. This was to let everyone get a feel of the track and conditions and separate the top cars from the early round of knockout racing. Unfortunately it was clear that this would not be the case! The weather began to clear and bright sunlight punctuated periods of gloom. Did you go with gearing for sun or low light?

Once you locked in for low light and then the sun came out it was disastrous. It meant your car accelerated rapidly, flying off the track and losing the race. This is what happened to ‘Bullet’. We won the race easily but flew off the track after the finish line failing to make it to the stopping zone. Have a look.

In Round 2 we came up against a Taiwanese team in a best of three knockout event. The team had geared the car down a little to avoid a repeat of Round 1 and we came away with two easy wins.

We thought at this stage we were back on track and things were looking good for a Top 16 position. This was where things got a bit confusing. The team went back to the tent while the supporters went to grab a coffee when we saw the boys getting ready to race again. The PA system was more for the teams than the spectators so we were not sure whether this was the start of Round 3 or Top 16 but we were off again to take on another competitor.

Our guys were like most teams, struggling to get the gearing to match the conditions. A number of good teams had losses in Round 2 due to the fluctuating light, with those cars able to stay on the track moving through to the next round. Our guys decided to gear down a little to ensure stability. Unfortunately as both teams came out to place the cars on the track conditions deteriorated and the light levels were very poor.

Here is the first race which we almost missed.

Both cars were identical designs and while we were too far away from the finish line it looked very close. Unfortunately for us the judges awarded the race to the WA car by a millimetre! It meant a lot of pressure was going to be on the next race. The team went back to the tent to make some slight changes.

Conditions brightened for the second race and our boys had upped the gearing to get more speed but in a crucial decision they added a little amount of ballast to ensure the car stayed on the track. The other team from what we knew later stayed with the same configuration. In brighter conditions the extra ballast just held us back enough to allow the WA team to progress further. Here is the second race.

If it is any consolation to our boys this WA car won the event. They kept the same gearing throughout and were fortunate to maintain a good pace and stay on the track. They were worthy winners.

For us it was a chance to sit back and watch the remaining cars do battle for the title. As conditions continued to be variable throughout the afternoon cars flew off the track with regular monotony. It was survival and reinforced the fact that the fastest car does not necessarily prevail.

Sunday afternoon saw the end of a great journey. The families of the three boys had made the trek south and seen their sons achieve something very special. We were awarded best poster which was an integral part of the Challenge and one of three major awards. The boys can be very proud of what they have achieved this year and I know they will be back with a another car in 2014. ‘Bullet’ has been officially retired and will take pride of place in the TAS Department of the College.

This is our winning poster:

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This is ‘Bullet’. NSW Sunsprint Champion 2013

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The SMCC team:

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