With only more day of racing ahead, the University”s solar car team holds a steady lead in the 2,300 mile American Solar Challenge.

Paul Wong
LSA senior Joseph Lambert, crew chief of the University”s solar car team, cleans the underside of the 2001 model “M-Pulse.”<br><br>DAVID KATZ/Daily

The team”s car, M-Pulse, was the first to finish the next-to-last stage of the race by pulling into Barstow, Calif., late Saturday afternoon. The final stage of the race is a 100 mile trek from Barstow to Claremont on Wednesday.

With the car averaging speeds of 50 to 55 miles per hour, Associate Engineering Prof. Brian Gilchrist, one of the team”s faculty advisers, expects the team to finish the last stage of the race in about two hours.

“It”s our race to win,” Gilchrist said.

He added that the team is about one hour ahead of its nearest competitor, the University of Missouri-Rolla. The third-place spot is currently being held by the team from the University of Waterloo, Ont.

The race began in Chicago and travels mostly along old Route 66. The first stop was in Rolla, Missouri.

Occasionally, Gilchrist said, M-Pulse travels on modern expressways, but most of time it follows secondary roads.

While traveling, the team has a lead vehicle in front of the solar car and a chase car following close behind.

In addition, it has scout vehicles way ahead of the car to describe route conditions and weather.

“How fast you drive depends not only on the sun conditions now, but also sun conditions later in the day,” Gilchrist.

Until Wednesday, Gilchrist said the team plans on “a little bit of relaxation” but mostly repairing and performing upkeep on the car.

Gilchrist said due to the conditions on Route 66, it is not unusual for the team to replace the car”s tires once a day.

“It certainly looks good and they”ve done an outstanding job for two years to design and build a precision vehicle,” he added.

After going through a series of potholes during pre-race practice, the car drove into a ditch and was severely damaged. Team captain Nader Shwayhat said the team is still working out the bugs.

“Several of the solar panels had to be shipped back to Germany, where the manufacturer worked on them like a surgeon,” Shwayhat said in a staement. “It was the first time he had done such emergency work.”

Started Sunday in Chicago, raced to rolla, Missouri staging point

Day 3 rolla to Barstow

8am to 6pm local time

next Wednesday: all teams go from Barstow to Claremont, cal. last 100 miles or so

averaging 50 miles per hour, closer to 55

traveling along historic route 66, secondary routes, sometime on interstates, most times off interstate

have a lead vehicle in front of vehicle, and chase vehicle

scout vehicles well ahead route conditions, weather,

How fast you drive depends not only on the sun conditions now, but also sun conditions later in the day

Right now we”re in 1st place and well positioned to maintain that into the finish time.

It”s our race to win at this point. 1 hr. or so ahead.

Btw. Now and wed. a little bit of relaxation but mostly preparing the car, doing the car work

Checking out repairing electronic equipment, replacing tires, replacing shocks.

It”s not unusual to replace a tire each day. We”ve had a few flat tires. When we arrived in Barstow our tires were particularly beaut up.

If you can imagine, old route 66 isn”t always in the best of conditions.

This team of mich. Students have been working for the past 2 years to do this and they really felt they had something to prove and they”ve been working very hbard to place themselves well in this race and they have.

It certainly looks good and they”ve done an outstanding job, for 2 years to design and build a precision vehicle.

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