Horsley Park resident Max Mammone is finding it hard to put the breaks on his excitement as the countdown to the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge officially heats up.
The 20-year-old is part of the the 22-member Western Sydney University Solar Car Project that involves a 3,000 kilometre drive from Darwin to Adelaide using only solar power in October.
The second-year engineering student was tasked to design and manufacture the rear suspension and brake system for the vehicle.
Not one to shirk a challenge he thought outside the box to come up with a solution.
“I am a mountain biker and what immediate struck me is that the suspension of mountain bikes are very similar,” he said.
“It has taken a lot of hard work to get the car to the point where it is now. I basically have been spending every day at the Solar Car Lab at the Penrith campus to try and make sure everything is right for the race.”
So what can he reveal about the car?
The answer is: “not much”.
The design and shape of the as-yet-unnamed vehicle are being kept under wraps until its official launch in August to make sure their competition doesn’t get any advantage
The closest we have come to seeing the vehicle is a video released on social media that reveals a blackened silhouette of the solar car that is concealed in the shadow of a bright, neon Western Sydney University shield.
What the former Thomas Hassall High School student can reveal is they are confident it will be better then the University’s two previous cars they have produced for the biannual Challenge in 2013 and 2015.
Their previous best result was 10th in 2015.
“We are confident we can produce our best finish in what will be out best car,” he said.
“Between now and the race there will be a lots of testing and fine-tuning of the vehicle.”
Mr Mammone said he time working on the project has been “very stressful” but “very rewarding”.
“It has been hard to juggle uni, work and the project. The degree definitely has a heavy workload, but I find that – being involved in the Solar Project – the work becomes easier. There are things that we learn when working on the car that are reiterated in class,” he said.
“Not many people can say in their second year of uni they are helping design a car that can race across the dessert using the same energy as a toaster.”
The 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge will be held from 8-15 October with teams racing along the Stuart Highway to the finish line.
In recent times, Mr Mammone has taken on a 2IC role in making sure the car in manufactured to race quality.
During the five days of racing he will be part of the convoy communicating with the driver to make sure there are no problems.
“We are taking a convoy of six cars, and will be communicating via radio and sleeping in hotels, cabins and tents. It will be a real adventure,” he said.
The car will be officially unveiled at a launch event on August 29.