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  • [MEN CHEERING IN UNISON]

  • DEREK: Today is the final day of the World Solar Challenge.

  • Exciting race.

  • -[LAUGHS] -Yeah, it's really exciting.

  • There are three teams.

  • Within 30 minutes...

  • I don't know if it's ever happened. I think not.

  • DEREK: In one of the closest races in years,

  • the top three solar teams,

  • Vattenfall, Agoria and Tokai

  • are starting just minutes apart.

  • But only one will bring home the trophy.

  • MAUD: There's obviously a bit of tension in the yard

  • because you know it's so close.

  • [ALL SHOUTING]

  • We've worked 14 months everyday,

  • 70 to 80 hours a week, to cross the finish line first.

  • It would mean everything.

  • Everyone is ready to take... To take the cup home.

  • I'm sure of that. It's gonna be all in today.

  • All cards on the table. It's gonna be super-exciting.

  • -[SHOUTING] -Today is the final day

  • and a big day.

  • [ALL CHEERING]

  • DEREK: It's all come down to this.

  • I am here in Adelaide,

  • where the World Solar Challenge 2019 will end.

  • It has been quite the journey.

  • Four-and-a-half days travelling 3,000 kilometers,

  • nearly 1,900 miles cutting across a continent.

  • And some of the most harsh, deadliest landscape on Earth.

  • 300 kilometers up the road

  • at the final control stop,

  • the top three teams are starting

  • based on their arrival times yesterday.

  • [COUNTING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

  • DEREK: Defending champions Vattenfall

  • are first out of the gate.

  • [CONTINUES COUNTING]

  • We're just gonna go. We're gonna go to Adelaide

  • as fast as we can. We're planning

  • not to be overtaken.

  • DEREK: Team Agoria from Belgium

  • is only two minutes behind Vattenfall.

  • DEREK: Team Tokai is starting 19 minutes behind Agoria,

  • but can't be counted out of the running.

  • They've been gaining relentlessly

  • over the last two days, moving from seventh to third.

  • We have enough energy for the car to make it in.

  • In fact, we have too much energy

  • because of the speed restrictions yesterday.

  • So we'll be going at full speed

  • all the way into the finish line.

  • The Japanese... They just keep increasing the speed every day,

  • and I think they're making some of these European guys nervous.

  • DEREK: In fourth position, the American team, Michigan,

  • is still within striking distance.

  • They're about 90 kilometers back.

  • We don't know exactly where all the vehicles are.

  • Um, but we did hear that they're pretty packed together

  • near Port Augusta.

  • Um, we're hoping that means they over-race a little bit,

  • and they try to, um, do lots of passes today,

  • and hopefully, maybe we can close some ground.

  • DEREK: Back up front, Tokai is already making up time.

  • But you can never underestimate the reigning champions.

  • Vattenfall has won seven of the last nine races here.

  • WILLEM: Our car's looking really good.

  • But there are, right now, a lot of good cars.

  • Tokai... Also, the Belgium team. It's also a very good car.

  • DEREK: In the final leg of a solar car race,

  • teams use as much battery as they can

  • to sprint into the finish.

  • But if a battery's charge gets too low,

  • this can be dangerous.

  • So everyone's pushing the limits of their cars and their packs,

  • and so, if you start getting towards the low-end of the pack

  • where you're running out of energy and, kind of,

  • pushing it a bit further,

  • your battery can start getting a bit hot.

  • DEREK: When batteries heat up,

  • they can become unstable...

  • [SOBBING] I'm so glad you're okay.

  • ...as the Stanford team found out

  • on the first day of the race.

  • Move back! Everyone...

  • DEREK: To stay safe, teams with low battery

  • must watch their speed.

  • [JASPER SPEAKING]

  • MAN: Yeah, I'll just sneak out to the right side.

  • DEREK: With nearly a full battery,

  • Agoria is slowly gaining on Vattenfall.

  • But with only a few hours left in the race,

  • it's not clear they'll have enough time

  • to catch the leader.

  • [INDISTINCT CHATTER OVER RADIO]

  • We heard over the comms of Delft that something happened.

  • Had to go to the side of the road,

  • but I don't... I'm not sure why.

  • Uh, so we'll be merging behind their convoy,

  • and then monitor their speeds.

  • MAN: Say, Mission control...

  • DEREK: Up ahead, the reason Vattenfall

  • is pulling over becomes painfully clear,

  • as their cabin fills with smoke.

  • -MAN 1: Stand by. -MAN 2: We have stopped.

  • [MAN 1 SPEAKING]

  • [MAN 2 SPEAKING]

  • [MAN 1 SPEAKING]

  • [MAN 2 SPEAKING]

  • [MEN SHOUTING]

  • Holy... [BLEEP]

  • [WOMAN CRYING]

  • DEREK: In a matter of seconds,

  • Team Vattenfall's dreams are fully ablaze...

  • and the finality is inescapable.

  • [SPEAKING GERMAN]

  • [SPEAKING SWEDISH]

  • MAUD: This morning, we thought we were gonna finish first,

  • and now we have no car to cross the finish line with.

  • Uh, the whole team's quite devastated about it.

  • So we try to push each other

  • through this experience and try and stay positive,

  • but it's very, uh, difficult to,

  • with everything you've worked for is, sort of, gone.

  • DEREK: As the Vattenfall car is reduced to nothing but ash,

  • Agoria passes by and into the lead.

  • The moment you pass another car

  • being broken or facing something very difficult,

  • the first thought is always, "Is the pilot okay?"

  • And then, it hits you like, "Oh, it's their work."

  • And it... You started... I felt sick.

  • I felt sick and, like, "Oh, it's terrible for them."

  • And... Yeah, it's such a weird... Yeah.

  • I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

  • DEREK: Up ahead of the leaders,

  • Agoria's "eyes" car or scout vehicle

  • reacts to Vattenfall's fate on social media.

  • -You see the smoke? -What?

  • CEDRIC: What? [BLEEP]

  • [YANTE SPEAKING]

  • So we are in first position right now.

  • That's quite exciting.

  • DEREK: With Agoria taking over the lead,

  • Tokai moves into second place.

  • While the Belgians have had a remarkable stroke of luck,

  • they're now being hunted down by the team from Japan.

  • DEREK: An hour back from the leaders,

  • Michigan is arriving at the final control stop,

  • Port Augusta.

  • With Vattenfall out of the race,

  • they've moved into the top three.

  • ANDREW: We started this morning in fourth place.

  • We're now in third.

  • DEREK: But there's one major factor

  • that could still keep Michigan from a podium finish.

  • Two days ago, their lead car blocked Tokai from passing,

  • a possible violation of race rules.

  • DEREK: Tokai lodged a complaint with race officials,

  • but the jury is still out.

  • ANDREW: We didn't know if there was a penalty

  • related to the driving conduct of some vehicles.

  • Uh, and that was... It was pretty frustrating.

  • DEREK: In the World Solar Challenge,

  • penalties are levied as forced time-outs from the race.

  • If officials decide to rule against Michigan,

  • it could allow the car behind them, Top Dutch,

  • to catch up and knock them out of third place.

  • ANDREW: Our strategy will not change as a result of this.

  • And the best way to win is to just focus on your own car

  • and keep going.

  • MAN: Holy... [BLEEP] What's down here?

  • [SPEAKING GERMAN]

  • DEREK: Agoria's lead on Tokai is very slim.

  • Now just 15 minutes separates the front two cars,