Thursday, October 23 - Day 5
After cursing the clouds that reduced Sungroper's morning charge, the team set off from the Aileron Roadhouse to drive the 130km into the Alice Springs control stop.
Today was an eventful day, not only did Sungroper cross over the Tropic of Capricorn, it also drove into Alice Springs, a downhill stretch much favoured by solar car drivers. After swapping in Colin, our heaviest driver (to take advantage of the downhill stretch), and despite the presence of a police radar trap the team successfully made it to the control point in Alice Springs.
At this point Dennis left the race in Alice Springs due to work commitments and after bidding him goodbye, the team departed the control point, successfully avoiding driving to the Alice Springs Airport (one of the few turns necessary in the 3000km journey!), and proceeded to drive some 20km past Stuart's Well.
Having noticed that one of the car's brake pads was missing, the team was determined to find a suitable replacement. This involved much verbal description of the missing part via satphone to the support team at a motorcycle shop (Race Motorcycles) in Alice Springs. A reference to a local copy of the Sungroper web site also helped to identify the parts, although the final purchase was made after Lannie looked through all 180 motorcycle brake pads in the store's catalogue, comparing them to the verbal description given over the satphone. Fortunately the parts purchased were the correct ones (albeit missing the necessary bolts)! They were also the last ones in stock! We're very grateful for the assistance received from the guys at Race Motorcycles and heartily recommend them. Some minor repairs were also made to the support vehicles, although Andrew's car needed a replacement brakelight switch.
Following the end of the evening's charging using the Sun's dying light the team returned to Stuart's Well to camp for the evening. Serendipitously a wrecked Falcon occupying the camping ground proved to be an ideal source for a replacement brakelight switch for Andrew's car. Later the team was regaled by the piano-playing and singing dingo, Dinky Di.
Tomorrow the team plans to cross the South Australian border and continue to Marla Bore.
The French team is believed to have made it to Cadney, although they are running low on tyres and still having problems with the stability of their suspension.