An epic 3,000-kilometer (1,860-mile) solar car race across outback Australia kicked off in Darwin on Sunday, October 6, with Japan’s Tokai University hoping to bag a third back-to-back title in the 38-team dash.

The World Solar Challenge, last held in 2011, began with a high-tech, futuristic flurry from State Square, led out by Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands in their four-seater car Stella, one of eight competitors in the new Cruiser class which aims to showcase solar technology for mainstream vehicles.

But the main action is in the streamlined Challenger class, where defending champions Team Tokai are hoping for a third straight win after consecutive titles in 2009 and 2011.

Race organizers said the Japanese team were “quietly confident” despite starting in 20th position after clocking one of the slower laps at Saturday’s time trial, which was won by Australia’s Team Arrow from Queensland University of Technology.

Read the full story – Australian solar car race kicks off.

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