Students win 3000km solar race

Students from Japan's Tokai University have won the 3000km World Solar Challenge car race through Australia's outback despite the event being marred by bush fires - and an explosion.

Team Tokai crossed the finish line in Adelaide just ahead of Netherlands' Nuon Solar in the race across the continent from Darwin to claim a consecutive victory - the previous event was held in 2009.

Vehicles were allowed to store a small amount of energy but the rest of their power had to be derived from the sun and the vehicle's kinetic forces.

FIRES AND EXPLOSIONS

The organisers said it was one of the closest finishes in the contest's 11-race history (since 1987) with less than 30km between the first and second finishers.

The Japanese crew had dedicated their race to the reconstruction of their tsunami-stricken nation and its energy future, given the current and related nuclear power crisis.

During the event Team Solar Philippines was sidelined by a battery explosion which set their car on fire.

Bush fires swept through central Australia, forcing the race to be suspended.

The University of Michigan was on track to finish third and Dutch Solar Team Twente and Japan's Ashiya University expected to complete the top five.

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