A TEAM from the North-East finished as the top British entry in a competition to travel across Australia powered solely by the sun.

The Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) team finished 14th in the Challenger Class of the recent Bridgestone World Solar Challenge for single seat cars powered by solar panels.

The challenge saw the team, made up largely of undergraduate students, drive more than 2,800km across the Australian outback, crossing the continent north to south, from Darwin to Adelaide.

The car, called Ortus, has been researched, designed, manufactured and tested at Durham University by a team of more than 50 people.

The car is made from carbon-fibre and uses a single custom-made in-wheel motor.

It weighs just 178 kg and cruises on the highway using less power than a hairdryer.

Its shape makes it so aerodynamic that its drag is comparable to the wing mirrors on a regular car.

The team arrived in Hidden Valley Raceway two weeks before the race to make final preparations and to conduct tests.

The race allows driving between 8am and 5pm and the team shared the highway with 4-trailer road trains weighing more than 1000 times the solar car.

Daytime temperatures during the event exceeded 40C in the shade, with temperatures in the car hot enough to melt plastic components.

Team member Owen Foo, said: “We camped on the side of the road every night, stopping wherever the car pulled over at 5pm to enjoy the peaceful tranquility offered by the outback and a sky full of stars. We encountered kangaroos, wallabies, emus and wild horses.”