CANBERRA (Reuters) - A team from Japan won a world solar car race through Australia's outback on Thursday, after battling more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles) of remote highways, dodging kangaroos and other wildlife and avoiding a bushfire.
Race officials said the team from Tokai University, near Tokyo, finished the race from the northern city of Darwin to the southern city of Adelaide at about noon on Thursday.
"Energy management is our strength. We'll try to be efficient all the way to Adelaide," one Tokai team member said prior to the start of the race on Sunday.
The Nuon Solar Car Team from the Netherlands came second, while a U.S. team from the University of Michigan lay third.
Thirty-seven cars from 21 countries started off in Darwin, heading south and using only the power generated by the sun in the 11th running of the annual race.
High-tech solar cars use public highways on the trek, with teams camping out overnight and stopping in remote locations as their cars run out of power after dark.
Along the way, they dodge other traffic, as well as kangaroos, camels and other wildlife that wanders in the vast outback deserts.
This year's race was made more dangerous by bushfires in the remote Northern Territory, which forced some leading cars to stop racing on Tuesday and camp out at a police roadblock as the fires crossed the main highway, 300 km north of the central town of Alice Springs.
One car from the Philippines burst into flames early in the race when its battery exploded. No team members were injured, the fire was extinguished and the car resumed the race with a replacement battery pack.
The race is a favorite for university teams and researchers looking for new green sources of energy to fuel cars.
(Reporting by James Grubel, editing by Elaine Lies and Ron Popeski)