Solar car reduced to ashes near Port Pirie

ASHES: Race crew members stand beside the burnt-out remains of a Dutch solar car at Mambray Creek. The flames spread to scrubland. Photo: Dean Mudge
ASHES: Race crew members stand beside the burnt-out remains of a Dutch solar car at Mambray Creek. The flames spread to scrubland. Photo: Dean Mudge

The futuristic vehicle leading the world's biggest solar car race has burst into flames near Port Pirie.

It was reduced to a pile of ash beside the Augusta Highway at Mambray Creek, about 50 kilometres north of Pirie, on Thursday.

The unexplained blaze spread to about half-an-acre of scrubland before a fire-break was built.

Dutch team Vattenfall is now out of contention in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

The vehicle had travelled more than 2700 kilometres from Darwin and was about 260 kilometres from the Adelaide finish line.

Baroota farmer and agricultural consultant Barry Mudge and his Mambray Creek fire group were alerted to smoke about 10am.

He said the Mambray Creek Country Fire Service brigade had also attended.

"There was pretty prompt work by a farmer who was reaping nearby," he said.

"He used a grader to quickly put a fire-break around the flames.

"It was trapped between two roads and he put the fire-break around the other side to make sure the fire did not go anywhere.

"The fire had the potential to burn a bit of country ... well done to the farmer.

"We took our private unit to the scene.

"By the time we got there, it was all under control and the vehicle was destroyed.

"It must have been full of volatile stuff.

"I just cannot believe that it was the whole vehicle."

"There was a heap of ashes left.

"The media was covering the race so there were cameras and journalists at the scene.

"The leading team were very disappointed. One said they were in the lead and had come thousands of kilometres and were only about 250 kilometres from home.

"They had fallen at the line."

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