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Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917
Fusion makes Fargo, heads north to Canada
AMES, Iowa -- Thursday was a perfect sunny day for racing solar cars across the Great Plains. And that was a good thing for Fusion, Iowa State University's student-built solar race car.
The car's battery protection system went down Thursday morning on day five of the North American Solar Challenge. That meant Team PrISUm had to scramble to make repairs. And it meant the team couldn't recharge the car's batteries.
So there wasn't much in the battery pack when Fusion started the day. But sunny skies provided all the power the car needed to cruise at 40 mph from Sioux Falls, S.D., through the checkpoint in Fargo, N.D., and up the road to Argusville, N.D. That made for a 290-mile day.
Fusion made the Fargo checkpoint in third place in the race's stock class, trailing cars from the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University. Fusion is nearly two hours behind the Berkeley car.
Fusion made Fargo in 11th place in a 20-car field. The top eight cars in the race are in the more powerful open class. The University of Minnesota had the overall lead.
"We're basically pushing our car to the limits," said Ryan Pfeiffer, a senior from Council Bluffs who's studying mechanical engineering. "It's the best we can do. Hopefully, there won't be as many problems tomorrow. Tomorrow should be a really good day."
The team expects to cross into Canada and make the next checkpoint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, sometime Friday. Because the next leg of the race doesn't start until Sunday, that gives the team Saturday to rest a little and catch up on some car maintenance.
Then it's west to checkpoints in Brandon, Manitoba; Regina, Saskatchewan; Medicine Hat, Alberta. And then, after 2,500 miles of racing from Austin, Texas, the North American Solar Challenge will finish in Calgary, Alberta, on Wednesday.
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Brian Scrimager, a communications specialist with Iowa State's College of Engineering, is joining Team PrISUm on the road. Read his eblog.
"We're basically pushing our car to the limits. It's the best we can do. Hopefully, there won't be as many problems tomorrow. Tomorrow should be a really good day."