University of Cambridge solar car crashes before race 0

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A highly advanced British solar car that took two years to develop was pulled out of a competition after it crashed into a barrier during pre-race testing.

Ahead of the World Solar Challenge, held this year in Australia, the Cambridge University Eco-Racing team’s solar powered Mirage car rolled after experiencing a “sudden loss of dynamic stability”.

The damage suffered during the crash was “irreparable”.

The vehicle’s safety compartment protected the driver who suffered minor injuries.

A statement released by the team said: “Unfortunately, the nature of the incident provided evidence that the car was unstable in certain conditions.

“Our continued analysis of the vehicle aims to understand the cause of the instability.”

“Being part of such a large solar community in Australia is a rare opportunity and the support and encouragement the team are receiving is phenomenal,” a team statement read.

The crash occurred in Alice Springs as the team made their final preparations ahead of the 3,000km (1,864 mile) race from Darwin to Adelaide.

The University of Cambridge has been involved in the development of solar vehicles since 2007, when it released the first road-legal solar car, Affinity.

The car involved in the crash, Mirage, is a 5m long carbon-fibre vehicle. It uses a cluster of solar power cells along its bodywork as a power source.

The value of the car is unknown, but comparable cars have cost up to £500,000.

The World Solar Challenge takes place across some of the “most remote, inhospitable and striking terrain in the whole of Australia”. Therefore, before the race begins, the car is subject to a thorough testing programme.

The test had been undertaken a number of times previously but “on this test occasion, a sudden loss of dynamic stability occurred and subsequently the car rolled and impacted a permanent barrier, causing irreparable damage”.

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