Sydney (dpa) – With the Australian sun beaming down, 42 solar powered cars set out from Darwin Sunday bound for Adelaide – 3,000 kilometres away in one of the most harrowing and prestigious races of its kind in the world.
A Dutch team led the solar-powered vehicles from 25 countries out of Darwin to cheers from a large crowd.
Most cars were from universities and research centres, but a team from Texas was made up of secondary school students.
The Dutch Nuon Solar Team are defending champions but face strong challenges from Japan’s Tokai University and the University of Michigan.
The lightweight vehicles can reach speeds up to 50 kilometres per hour on the long straight, paved highway to Alice Springs.
Under the rules of the 2015 World Solar Challenge – held every two years since 1987 – the cars must be fully self-sufficient and stop at 5 pm. Several vehicles had to pull out even before the start due to technical difficulties.
The teams service their vehicles and camp wherever they are in the desert.
The first solar cars are expected to reach the finish line in Adelaide on Wednesday.