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Solar powered cars set off for Australia's outback race

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – More than 40 racing teams from 21 countries left Darwin on Sunday to race across Australia to the southern city of Adelaide in the world’s fastest solar powered cars.

The 3,000 kilometre (1,864 mile) Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is one of the most prestigious solar car races. The biannual event first began in 1987 and is based on a notion that a 1000 watt car would complete the trip from Darwin to Adelaide in 50 hours.

The teams are expected to complete the race by Thursday, with speeds of 90-100 kmh (55-62 mph) powered only by the sun. In the week preceding the event, teams had to pass a series of practical safety and compliance tests to qualify for the start line.

Top Dutch Solar Racing team car ‘Green Lightning’ led off the competitors from Darwin’s State Square after earning pole position with the fastest lap at Hidden Valley Raceway on Saturday .

The teams, comprising of secondary and tertiary students form countries ranging from Australia through Sweden, Netherlands and Japan to the United States, must be self-sufficient, travelling each day as far as they can until 5 p.m. and making camps to stay overnight along the route through the desert. The solar vehicles are categorised to compete in three different classes: challenger, cruiser and adventure.

“The 15th edition Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019: the winds of change are gathering around global warming, electricity networks, lots and lots of things are missing, lots and lots of protests,” Event Director Chris Selwood said earlier this week.

“This event is as relevant today if not more relevant than it was when we first ran in 1987.”

(Reporting by James Redmayne and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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