Team PrISUm's mechanical woes continue; after repairs team sets fastest lap of race

Pit work

The student-engineers of Team PrISUm work in the pits to prepare Iowa State's solar race car for the Formula Sun Grand Prix. Larger photo. Team PrISUm photo.

AMES, Iowa -- It was slow and then fast for Team PrISUm at day two of the three-day Formula Sun Grand Prix on Friday.

First, Thursday's problems with a rear hub connection continued on Friday. The team had to pull its solar race car into the pits for 90 minutes to study and fix the problem. As a result the team remains in fourth place, 18 laps behind the leader.

Zach Noel, a senior from Denison who’s studying aerospace engineering and is Team PrISUm’s assistant project director, said a nut holding the car's real wheel in place is getting stuck. That makes rear tire changes very difficult.

He said the problem could be related to the heat at the Circuit of the Americas, the F1 race track in Austin, Texas, and the home of this year's race for student-designed and student-built solar cars. It was 104 degrees in Austin on Friday and race officials said track temperatures were 135 degrees.

Noel said the team will try changing tires with the rear hub still attached during the last day of racing on Saturday. That will be slow, but not as slow as fighting problems with the rear hub connections.

Once the team's car was back on track, it set the fastest lap of the race so far. That was a trip of 4:42.289 around the 3.4-mile race track.

Fast as that is for a solar car, it won't be enough to make up all those laps. But Team PrISUm plans to keep racing.

"We're going to try to catch back up and keep consistent lap times," Noel said.

If the top three teams push each other hard enough that they need extra time in the pits, the Iowa Staters could make up some ground.

"We're optimistic," Noel said. "We'll do what we can. We're definitely not giving up here."