Thursday 20 October 2011, Coober Pedy, SA: The Audi A1 1.6 TDI taking part in the 2011 Veolia World Solar Challenge completed the longest and hottest day so far and cruised through the intimidating conditions to record its best fuel consumption figures yet in the 3028km journey from Darwin to Adelaide.

Leaving Alice Springs on Wednesday morning, the innovative Audi battled 37.5C temperatures, blustery winds and heavy traffic which included houses being moved on low loaders and trucks carrying massive mining equipment. Some 684km later it pulled into outback Coober Pedy with its on-board computer showing the impressive economy figure.

While the figures compiled by the event adjudicators won’t be calculated until Thursday morning’s official refuelling, so far their carefully calculated figures have coincided with the Audi’s on-board computer.

The previous best day’s run by the Audi was on Tuesday when, slipping past bushfires which had earlier closed the Stuart Highway and caused the WSC to be suspended, it had used a very credible 3.4 litres/100km.

Wedge-tail eagles feasting on road kill and wild brumbies were among the extra hazards faced on Wednesday, and Thursday’s weather forecast is for only slightly cooler conditions on the 541km run to Port Augusta.

The solar cars taking part in the challenge had their share of difficulties yesterday exacerbated by high cloud and smoke from distant South Australian bushfires which reduced the efficiency of their solar panels. The Japanese Tokai University continued to lead the event.

The Audi A1 1.6 TDI production car, being driven by motoring journalist Bob Jennings and navigated by his partner Liz Blieschke will complete its cross-country journey in Adelaide on Friday.

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