Aurora In Japan Press Release

Australia's Champion Solar Car to Race in Japan


The highly successful Aurora-RMIT 101 solar car will be flying the flag for Australia in Japan's two major solar car events this July and August. The Aurora Vehicle Association has accepted invitations to participate in the 'Dream Cup' at the famous Suzuka Formula 1 circuit on the 27-28 July followed by the 'World Solar Rallye' in Akita, 2-4 August 2002. These are the two most important solar car events in Japan and will each draw about 100 entries. Japan has the greatest number of solar car teams of any country in the world and have been formidable competitors in the World Solar Challenge held in Australia since 1987, with the factory team from Honda winning the WSC in both 1993 and 1996.

Over the past 6 months the Aurora-RMIT101 solar car has broken 7 world records and has become the most accomplished team in this international 'brain sport'. In January Aurora completed a 24 day 13,054 km around Australia journey to smash the world distance record of 7,045 km held by the Queens University team in Canada. Aurora has been Australia's most successful team in the World Solar Challenge since its inception in 1987, winning the event in 1999 and finishing a close second in 2001.

Team manager for the Aurora-RMIT 101 entry, David Fewchuk, said 'race conditions in Japan are very different from those we have experienced before. The Suzuka race track is quite hilly with several tight corners and of course lots of traffic'. This contrasts with the long, straight, flat sections of deserted highway experienced in the World Solar Challenge between Darwin and Adelaide. 'As far as we know no foreign entrant has ever won either of these Japanese events in the past'. The Aurora team has raced at Suzuka before, back in 1992, when it finished third in its class.

Without the benefit of a convoy of support cars, entrants in these two events are very dependent on the skill of their drivers even to the point of conducting minor repairs out on the track. The drivers nominated for the Aurora-RMIT 101 solar car are Mark Gilligan, Adrian Marziano and Tony Vriens. All are experienced in the World Solar Challenge and Tony Vriens is the world's longest distance solar car driver having driven about 16000 kilometres in his solar car career.

More than half the entries in the two Japanese events will come from high schools racing in a restricted 'junior' class. Aurora's team mascot and youngest member, 15 year old Damien McArthur from Hamilton will be right at home in this group. However, Aurora team members hope to learn a great deal in Japan about how to make a low cost solar car to proceed with the development of a prototype which will appeal to many more Australian high school teams.

The Victorian based Aurora team enjoys the support of 56 companies and organisations most notably Minter Ellison, Ford Australia, Bosch, the Victorian Government and 101 Collins Street. Competing in Japan brings special emphasis to Aurora's three Japanese sponsors which are Sumitomo Corporation, NEC and Mazda.

Aurora's website will feature daily diary entries and race results while the team is in Japan between 22 July and 4 August 2002.