World Solar Challenge: Belgian team hopes to make history in sun-powered race across Australia

World Solar Challenge: Belgian team hopes to make history in sun-powered race across Australia

World Solar Challenge: Belgian team hopes to make history in sun-powered race across Australia

Updated 7 October 2017, 21:25 AEDT

A Belgian solar car racing team is looking to make history as it leads a field of 41 teams from around the world on an epic race from Darwin to Adelaide.

A Belgian solar car racing team will be looking to make history as it leads a field of 41 teams from around the world on an epic race across Australia.

The World Solar Challenge will begin in Darwin on Sunday, on a 3,000-kilometre transcontinental journey to Adelaide.

On Saturday, the competitors took turn in doing hot-laps of Darwin's Hidden Valley Racetrack — a course more associated with the noise and smell of V8 Supercars rather than clean, green, solar-powered machines — to work out the grid position.

Pole position was taken out by Belgian team Punch Powertrain in a time of 2:03.8, hitting an average speed of 83.4km/h.

While that is well off the pace of 1:02.9268 of track record holder Simone Wills in a Reynard 94D Holden, Punch Powertrain did their lap using only the power of the sun.

Team leader Joachin Verheyen said taking pole position was a surprise.

"We knew our car was good but we never expected pole because there are a lot of competitors over here, a lot of very fast looking cars," he said.

"It's absolutely wonderful and a great team performance that we crossed the finish line first."

Winning pole position means the team will not have to use precious stored energy to accelerate to overtake slower competitors.

"Mentally, the team is now on a roll, just one big flow towards Adelaide so that's going to make a difference for sure," Mr Verheyen said.

Punch Powertrain have never won the World Solar Challenge, but Mr Verheyen said he thought his team stood a good chance this year.

The first five cars will all be sleek, futuristic-looking solar-powered cars in the race's challenger class, but in sixth place will be Team Bochum from Belgium, which is in the cruiser class competition.

That competition aims to show design that could one day lead to solar-powered cars for consumers that can carry passengers.

Bochum manager Max Ringel said his team did not expect to be the fastest in their class, as they had a car full of people and less torque available.

"We were quite surprised that it happened, and it's a big motivation for us," he said.

"But that was a sprint, and the marathon 3,000 kilometres down to Adelaide is still in front of us."