The current champions of the World Solar Challenge, Delft University’s Nuon team from the Netherlands, has arrived in the country to start preparations for this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge. The race will kick off in Pretoria on 27 September and end in Cape Town on 4 October.
Ranked as one of the top global events of its kind, the Sasol Solar Challenge promises to be an exciting eight-day countrywide endurance challenge, not only demonstrating the sophistication and performance of solar-powered vehicles, but providing a platform to develop education and skills for future generations, specifically the advancement of STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Sasol has sponsored the event since 2012, and believes that conceptualising, designing and building a solar car ticks all the boxes of STEM principles in that it provides a practical laboratory on wheels for the students.
The race is also the only solar vehicle event that is accredited by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) – the governing body for world motorsport.
This year, the Nuon team will enter their latest solar vehicle, the NUNA 7 in which they hope to retain their position as the leader of the pack. The Nuon team comprises of six full-time students and several part-time students studying technology, policy and management (TPM), mechanical engineering, physics, civil engineering, and architecture, who are determined to complete the race with top honours.
According to a statement from the Nuon team, the NUNA 7 has been optimised to suit South African conditions, which include long distances, high speeds and heat in the 2 000km course from the capital to the Mother City. The team also plans to drive the daily loops to help them achieve the longest distance ever for a solar race.
Held every two years in South Africa, the Sasol Solar Challenge attracts teams from around the world who come together to demonstrate the sophistication and performance of their solar-powered vehicles.
This year, 11 teams have entered into the event – eight from South Africa and three from countries ranging from the Netherlands, Cyprus and Turkey.
Local participation will come from the universities of North West, TUT, Wits, UCT and UKZN. Two schools, Maragon Private School, Olympus and the Deutsche International School Johannesburg, will also take part in the 2014 event.
“Over the years, we’ve seen increased interest in the race from both local and international teams. We have also seen how this event heightens interest in the areas of science, innovation, teamwork and business principles, particularly amongst young enthusiasts,” said Sasol Solar Challenge Director, Winstone Jordaan.
“The most attractive draw card for all is the fact that the Sasol Solar Challenge is the most strategically challenging race of its kind. Participants are measured on a number of factors including lowest energy consumption and strategic use of battery power as opposed to who crosses the finish line first,” explained Jordaan.
The race will pass through Sasolburg, Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Graaff-Reinet, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Swellendam. Competitors will cover an average distance of 260km a day, although front-runners will cover a total distance of up to 6 000km fuelled by sunlight alone.
For more information and to get behind your team, follow the Sasol Solar Challenge on Twitter @Solar_Challenge, like the Facebook page HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/SASolarChallenge” www.facebook.com/SASolarChallenge and visit us at HYPERLINK “http://www.solarchallenge.org.za” www.solarchallenge.org.za