The Sasol Solar Challenge is a biennial competition. Teams from across the world design and build solar-powered vehicles to drive across South Africa in an eight-day event. Local and international solar-powered cars travel as far as they can on various roads and loops between Pretoria and Cape Town. The 2020 event will take place from 11-19 September 2020.
The Sasol Solar Challenge invites innovation to the scenic roads of South Africa. Throughout the Challenge, one can expect to find a series of different challenges. Some needing expert advice, and others needing strategic planning and meticulous strategies. With all of this in mind, we here in South Africa would like to assist you by presenting a list of ‘challenges’ that we have solved for you.
The Sasol Solar Challenge stretches over 8 days of tough competition with some days challenging even the best solar teams from around the world. Each morning, the solar teams will set off on the next length of their journey, covering a minimum of about 250 – 300 km. Upon the arrival of the teams they need to complete a 30 min compulsory Control Stop before they are allowed to set off to the finish line for the day.
LOOP / CONTROL STOPS
On each event day, solar teams are given the option to complete loops. Each loop consists of between 25 – 40 km. The teams will leave the control stop to do a loop, which will then bring them back to the control stop. Each time a team enters a control stop, a loop stop of 5 min is required before teams can set off to do more loops or continue to the finish line of the day. Through this, teams have the opportunity to maximise the amount of kilometres they add to their journey, which will ultimately result in the team winning the Sasol Solar Challenge.
“Does this mean we have to build a new solar car? It will take us months!” NO! The Sasol Solar Challenge Sporting and Technical Regulations are aligned with the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Regulations. This ensures that all the aspects of the challenge is completely safe, and also encourages and motivates international teams to participate with the same solar vehicles they used in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. There is however, small changes required to accommodate South African Law and Road Safety Acts, as well as to keep the challenge interesting and different to all other solar events.
EXCHANGE RATE AND CURRENCIES
Teams from across the world will definately benefit from the South African exchange rate. Traveling to South Africa and visiting our beautiful country will let you achieve exponential saving compared to other international Solar Events. The official currency of South Africa is Rands (ZAR). Recent exchange rates compare to Aus$1.00=R10.00 or US$1.00=R15.00. Please note that exchange rates fluctuate and could differ from the comparison mentioned above when compared at another time and date.
FREIGHT AND LOGISTICS
"How the freight am I supposed to get my solar car to South Africa?, you might ask." The Sasol Solar Challenge has partnered up with SkyNet couriers to bring you the best in freight services. SkyNet is very familiar with the event and has happily joined us to assist solar teams to get their vehicle and equipment to South Africa with great competitive prices.
FLYING TO AND FROM SOUTH AFRICA
Over 70 international airlines now fly into South Africa. For great prices and flight options kindly visit www.travelstart.co.za. It’s a long haul from Europe (10 to 12 hours), Asia (12 to 17 hours) and the United States (up to 15 hours or even more). You’ll most likely fly directly into OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Every night, the Sasol Solar Challenge will provide your team with a camping area where you can be safe and at ease knowing that you can get a good night’s sleep before the challenging day ahead.
CAMPING AND GEAR
"Did we remember to bring enough camping gear? Oh no, we forgot about the Observer! What do we do?” The Sasol Solar Challenge has partnered up with Cape Union Mart, the leading South African outdoors retailer, to bring you the best in camping gear and supplies anyone would need to survive a night in the hot African outdoors.
WATER AND SANITATION
“OK everyone, here is your daily water ration. Go behind that tree and have your shower.” What a terrible way to live. The Sasol Solar Challenge understands the basic needs of each individual, thus having a daily shower is a priority on everyone’s mind. At each nightly stop / campsite, there will be facilities that you may use to encourage great health and sanitation. For an added bonus, we have thrown in some toilets too.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
“But hold on, what about the lions running around in the streets? The gangsters running the country?” No-way, José! The Sasol Solar Challenge ensures that safety is one of our highest priorities. The route from Pretoria to Cape Town is completely safe, with a third-party security company assisting us at all camping sites and at all Control Stops. Once registered, we will provide you with a “Guide to South Africa” which will give you some tips and tricks to surviving the concrete jungles and open landscapes of South Africa.
RULES OF THE ROAD
South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road. Seatbelts are compulsory and you may not talk on your mobile phone while driving. All speed limits in South Africa are in kilometres per hour. Generally, the speed limit for urban areas is 60km/h, on secondary roads it’s 100km/h and on national highways its 120km/h. Always keep an eye out for the designated speed limit as these may vary depending on road conditions and law enforcement does take place next to the road.
You may use a valid driver’s license issued in your own country as long as it has a photograph, the signature of the holder and is in English. Otherwise, it’s best to obtain an international driving license before you leave home. You should always have your driver’s license with you when you are driving as you will be asked to produce it if you are pulled over for any reason by traffic police.
Oh, what beautiful roads we have in South Africa… just watch out for those potholes! Potholes: a depression or hollow in a road surface caused by wear or subsidence. While driving down to Cape Town, you might see a drastic change in road conditions from town to town, which would require you to change / mix up your strategy. We at the Sasol Solar Challenge try and assure the best road conditions possible and are in constant communication with all the towns to keep up to date with any changes that may occur before the start of the challenge in 2020.
SOUTH AFRICAN CLIMATE
“I thought this is Africa, not Antarctica?” During the route from Pretoria to Cape Town, we are traveling through different weather climates, which may cause you to feel a bit colder, or hotter, than usual. We highly suggest packing accordingly. The month of September is the start of Spring, but it may also mean heavy winds and cold mornings / nights. Again, Cape Union Mart comes to the rescue with their amazing range of outdoor clothing, for both warm and cold weather.
South African local time (Bravo or GMT+2), not to be confused with Zulu Time, is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), also Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Zulu Time (Z) and operates all year throughout the entire country.