By Georgia Hitch for MSN Motoring
It might be a solar challenge, but much of the work to get the car ready happens before dawn.
Wake-up time is 6:00am, to give teams enough time to set up the car, so that as soon as the sun’s first rays appear over the horizon, it’s soaking up that energy.
While that’s happening, everyone packs up the campsite, eats, and gets the support cars ready.
According to challenge rules, drivers have to wait until 8:00am to set off.
The 30 minutes before then is crunch time for teams to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible; then it’s on the road until the first checkpoint.
Along the route are a number of mandatory half-hour checkpoints where both challenger and cruiser-class cars must stop.
The rules have changed this year, meaning that during this time no-one is allowed to touch the car — not even to help a driver or passenger get in and out.
That proved an issue for Queensland’s TeamArrow STF on the first day, when it discovered an issue with the steering as the car moved to drive out of the checkpoint.
The priority was making sure the car was safe and fixed as soon as possible, said Richard Cummack, mechanical lead for the team.
“We did design the car, and we’ve been taking it apart and putting it back together a number of times, so we … had an idea what was going on even from the other car,” he said.
“It’s such a critical piece of the car; to have something like that go wrong was quite a shock, to be honest.
“We were trying to get the problem solved quickly and get back on the road.”
Some tweaking with a crowbar and set of pliers later, the issue was resolved and the car was back on track.