SYDNEY, Australia: An epic 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) solar car race across the desert heart of Australia designed to showcase new technology that could one day help develop commercial vehicles, got underway Sunday.
The World Solar Challenge, first run in 1987 and last held in 2015, began in a high-tech, futuristic flurry from Darwin's State Square.
Dutch team Nuon is aiming to defend its title but Belgium's Punch Powertrain led the 41 cars - powered by the sun and mostly developed by universities or corporations - off on the punishing journey south to Adelaide after a surprise win in Saturday's time trial.
"We knew our car was good but we never expected pole because there are a lot of competitors over here, a lot of very fast looking cars," team manager Joachin Verheyen told reporters.
The event has become one of the world's foremost innovation challenges with teams looking to demonstrate designs that could one day lead to commercially available solar-powered vehicles for passengers.
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