Spirits were slightly down after we had run out of power the previous afternoon; we no longer knew if we were in 2nd place, or if Bochum was far enough ahead of us to take it from us. On the other hand, we got a very good evening and morning charge, and drove to the stage stop in Normal, IL as fast as the speed limits would allow, arriving before noon. We were 5th into the stage, after Michigan, Stanford, Missouri S&T, and Bochum. We later learned that we were still in 2nd place, approximately 13 minutes ahead of the Germans. We'd gotten 7 minutes of penalties for speeding, but the Germans got 8 minutes of penalties for something, so we weren't complaining.
The Normal, IL stage stop was really well put together. The organizers of the top had seen to it that the campus's billiards and bowling hall was open to all of the teams, and free snowcones were available out at the solar cars. A big thanks to those responsible for the stage stop for keeping us cool and entertained!
We started the 7th and last day of the race with just the barest hold on 2nd place. The last stage was a ~110 mile sprint into Naperville, and it was clear that all of the top cars had the power to drive the whole way at the speed limit. It was going to come down to who was able to hug the speed limit the best without speeding, and who got lucky at the stoplights. We began the day right on Michigan's tail, but very shortly, Bochum and then Stanford got around both of our caravans. Bochum appeared to have timed the stoplights to perfection, and Stanford just seemed hell-bent on crossing the finish line first, regardless of whether they got speeding penalties or not. Their car was like a rocket out of the stoplights.
When Michigan saw that they would not be crossing the finish line first, they very graciously allowed us to pass, ensuring that if our two caravans came up to a changing traffic light, our caravan would be the one that got through while they got caught. This allowed us to try to stick to Bochum as closely as possible.
Although the last stage was one of the shortest race days of the entire trip, it was about 10x as stressful as any other day. Centaraus 2 and our driver Slavo performed flawlessly, and in the end, we managed to maintain our distance from Bochum well enough to take 2nd place overall by 7 minutes and 57 seconds. Michigan took the overall win. We're incredibly proud to have taken home the silver; the trophy wil join our '95, '03, and '05 second place trophys.
We also took home several other awards. At the Normal, IL stage stop, the teams were all polled and we were given a sportsmanship award. At the finish line, the team was given the award for excelence in electrical design, as well as the official's sportsmanship award as party of a three way tie with Calgary and Northwestern. We're pleased to be recognized for all of the hard work that we did to get other teams on the road. The race observers handed out some joke awards afterward; we got a rearview mirror with a picture of Michigan's lead vehicle taped to it, to remind us that we were the first team to the race that got to show Michigan some taillights. It's going to get hung in a place on honor in our shop office.
This was a fantastic end to an amazing two years on the C2 project.