Japanese Team Wins Australian Solar Car Marathon

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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A Japanese team was first across the finish line Thursday to win a four-day race for solar-powered cars across the Australian outback.

Teams from 20 countries took part in the 3,000-kilometer annual race, driving cars with no power source except for the sun.

Driver Kouhhei Sagawa from the winning Tokai University team said the result should give hope to his country after its devastating earthquake in March.

He said solar power will be increasingly important for Japan after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

A team from the Netherlands finished second in the race from Darwin on Australia's northern coast to Adelaide in the south. Third place went to an American team from the University of Michigan.

Contestants said they had to avoid wallabies, cattle, sheep, lizards and a bush fire on their drive across the Australian desert. One car, from the Philippines, burst into flames when its battery exploded but no one was hurt.

The competitors used public highways for the race. Rules required them to stop each day at 5 p.m. and camp for the night.