The past two days have been pretty smooth sailing. On Tuesday, we left bright and early from the Downtown Ramada in Topeka, KS. Leaving the city, Michigan's caravan, ours, and Bochum's were lined up nearly nose-to-tail in traffic for about 3 miles, which certainly had to be interesting for the morning commuters to gawk at.Once we got out of the city, however, it became apparent that Michigan was outpacing us, and Bochum was falling back.
Early in the day, Missouri S&T caught up to us. They would have liked to pass us, but they caught up to us as we were entering a construction zone with no safe place to pull off, and S&T ended up dropping back a little with traffic. A few miles on, we missed a turn. We turned left onto a road, and half a mile later, we were supposed to turn right. Our lead vehicle spotted it too late, and we had to continue straight and find a safe place to turn around. However, S&T came around the left turn and saw us ahead. Their navigator must have assumed that we knew what we were doing, as they followed us the wrong way! S&T got turned around faster than us and got ahead, as while we were both sorting ourselves out, Bochum snuck past both of us.
We ended up pulling into the Jefferson City checkpoint around 2:20pm in 3rd place, behind the Germans. Jefferson City was sweltering, but the Capitol Building was very pretty (and had ice-cold air conditioning). At the end of our two hours at the checkpoint stop, S&T, Stanford, and Kaohsiung had all arrived.
The end of the day did not go so well. The battery instantly hit the temperature limit of the cells, and we limped along for the remaining hour and a half. On the plus side, we found a perfect place to stop and charge. By this point, the team was fed up with temperature issues in the battery. The array was making power, but due to the heat issues, we couldn't put it to the ground. So we made a ram-air intake duct:
When we started the next morning, it became apparent that our work on the duct had paid off; the battery immediately cooled down when we started driving, and stayed about 10 degrees Celsius cooler than it had on previous days. The highest temperature we'v seen since then is around 39C, wheras before we were limping along to keep temps down and still bumping against the 45C limit! The sprint into Rolla on day 4 was over very fast; we arrived in Rolla in 2nd place. Although Michigan had gained time on us, we had gained time on Bochum in 3rd. At this point, we're just trying to hold onto what we have, a 2nd place finish with our cheap array will be a big enough victory in and of itself.