Special Thanks for the Sasol Solar Challenge 2014
By Winstone Jordaan, Race Director
The race was a huge success, overall. We have seen vast improvements in the professionalism of the teams and the design and innovation in their vehicles. The changes to the race format, have made this the toughest race of this nature in the world. Eight days of continuously changing conditions, evolving strategies and weather tested both the vehicles and the teams to their limits. In an event where just getting to the start is a huge achievement, we have seen 10 teams face the challenge and prove their capability by surviving to the end. I would like to thank all officials, the FIA, MSA and Think Bike, and give congratulations to the winning teams, Nuon, Anadolu and UKZN, as well as all the participants, you are all hero’s.
I tried counting the people by name that have had a substantial contributed to the success of this event, and gave this up as they numbered into the triple digits. I would, however, like to thank specific groups of people. It is clear that each of these groups are a strategic part of our success: If any one group was absent the event would not have been the same.
Sasol and their partners
Sasol are certainly at the top of the list, for their commitment to the Solar Challenge. Without their backing we would not have been able to execute this event. Sasol’s initial commitments in 2012 took an event that might not have happened and solidified its future. The team has a wealth of experience in managing and promoting projects. These skills have also brought new depth to the event. I have no doubt that this event would not have being nearly as successful without the efforts of the Sasol team. They have inspired us to perform to the top of our game and provided us with a framework that has changed the destiny of this event. Sasol not only brought a professional image to the event, but also raised the marketing and PR to levels I did not believe possible. Furthermore, having Sasol as our main rights sponsor changed everything. The event has elevated each year that Sasol has being involved. I believe the lessons we’ve learned this year will give us a strong foundation to build on in 2016. Through their partners like Ogilvy, Quirk, Compex, HDI, Sapphire, Barry and David, Sasol have certainly made this a Mega Event. For the first time, we have an active schools engagement program.
Advanced Energy Foundation Team
The Advanced Energy Foundation, is the official promoter of the Sasol Solar Challenge, this foundation provides the events project team, including Annalie Fires (van Vuuren), Marriël, William, Dudu and Tshepo. I can safely say that without Annalie, the quality of this event would not have been nearly as good. Annalie was the logistical wizard that took responsibility for all the planning of this event; driving the route multiple times to sort out the stops; accommodation and food. She had the job of consolidating my vision for the challenge, and the expectations of the participants and sponsors, and in this she performed exceptionally. Although all the staff of the Foundation performed admirably, I would also like to single out Marriël: While still a student, she came to our office in Feb 2014 as a 6 month volunteer, and become such an asset, that we simply had to ensure she was back for the race. Marriël is a brilliant organiser, and took a strong lead in the environmental aspects of the event. In spite of this huge task she still found ample time to help in other areas of the project. William a journalist, only joined the team a month before the event, with the express instructions to make sure the results were captured and processed each day. He also took on the task of completing the detailed route books and other event documents. Special mention should also be made of the permanent staff of the foundation: Dudu and Tshepo. They were there in full support of the event, and constantly doing the tasks that fall between the cracks. Together this core team made this event the success it was.
FIA and MSA Officials
The officials: This group of motorsport experts are specifically brought in for the event. Since this is a Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) event, we have 2 FIA officials that attend, Georg Brasseur and Karl-Heinz Stegner. These are both world class professionals, and have continuously provided valuable feedback to improve the quality of the event. Georg, along with me, is one of only two people to have being involved in all 4 events. The FIA and Motorsports South Africa (MSA) officials are not part of the organisational team, but commit about 2 weeks of their time to ensure that the event is run in a professional and safe manner. I is difficult to express how invaluable their inputs are in assuring that an event happens without incident. It start with the Scrutineering process which ensures the vehicles both meet both design and safety standards. This relies on the expert and technical knowledge about the event and the vehicles. Once the on-road component of the event starts we are under the control of the Clerk of the Course (COC), Wally Pappas. He is a 6 year veteran of the Sasol Solar Challenge and helps us to bridge the gap between traditional Motorsport and Solar Challenges or “Brain Sport”. This allows us to reach a critical balance that keeps the professionalism of Motorsport, the innovation of Brain Sport and the fun and networking of Solar Challenges. The MSA should also take some of the credit for where this event has gone in the past 8 years. I’d like to give special thanks to Adrian Scholtz, the now CEO of Motorsport South Africa. In 2007 he was the first person to believe in the vision I had of establishing the South African Solar Challenge He was the first to commit the support of MSA, even though at the time the event was very new and unknown.
Simply being able to design and build a vehicle, and to present it at the Scrutineering, is a mammoth task. I would like to extend a special thanks to each of these teams. It’s a jaw dropping feat of skill to be able to design and build these highly experimental vehicles while still finding time for your studies. Having your cars pass scrutineering and roadworthy-tests and then driving on the roads exclusively with solar power is nothing short of awe-inspiring. 10 Teams have worked hard to have a safe running car, these teams range in size, but to have a working car, takes huge commitment and effort. Many of the cars are very different by the end of the race, having done modifications and in some cases rebuilds to keep the vehicles running. Clearly, without these teams we have no event. The fact that the teams are putting in the effort and are committed to be at the race, makes it possible for us to get the level of support that we have achieved in 2014. A friend, Jeroen, said the other day they are “all winners” and he is correct: Every team making it to the start line is a Winner. After that it is just about seeing who can drive the furthest. I hope to see you all back in 2016, along with new teams from all over the world.
It is fair to say that the Observers were our eyes and ears on the event. There is so much expected from the Observers while they are our Event Ambassadors traveling with the teams. To all off you we want to say Thank You! You did a great job. You were an essential part of our on road event and gave us much needed feedback. Thank you to Bart and Patrick who came all the way from Belgium and the USA. We know it was a costly exercise for you, but hope it was all worth it in the end. We are booking you all for the 2016 event!
Compex, our “Elves”
Dean, Gabi and your hard working elves, when we arrived at places they were branded, and when we left they were removed, at some time it felt like this can only be done by elves, because they were never seeing doing their work, seemed to happen magically. I know this was not true; there was a lot of planning and hard work in execution. Thanks to all of these guys, I know you worked hard, there is no show like this, where we have a full moving exhibit, that must be setup and broken down at 3 locations per day. Well done…
Over the years we have always looked at ways of making our event safer. For years an old friend Ruari Plint, kept suggesting we consider Think Bike; I have being slow to do this, but in 2014 I decided that we should try it. So now I must get on my knees and apologise for not taking this sage advice before: sorry Ruari. The Think Bike Marshals where an absolute asset. Having them as part of this event, has without doubt contributed to its safety. I would have no hesitation is recommending that they be part of any on-road event. Although we were pleased to have many Think Bike members in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, special thanks must go to Jadd and Trevor who travelled the entire trip with us. These gents where on the road keeping the participants safe at all times. They left with the first teams and arrived after the last teams, rain or sunshine. The professionalism and commitment of these bikers, has given me a newfound respect for motorcyclists. They will be part of every event going forward.
The Towns and Cities along the Route
Having a 2’000 km route means that we will pass through 100’s of towns and cities. In each of these towns, we were welcome guests. In many cities the Mayors, City managers and other local community leaders came out to support us and send off the vehicles in the morning. In most cases they elicited the support of their traffic authorities. Schools and public came out on the roads to see the cars. This makes each town special and without their support we would miss one of our primary objectives: educating of young minds with practical demonstrations of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Our Ambassadors, Michelle and Riaan
Michelle and Riaan, grabbed this project with both hands, they were not only ambassadors, but very quickly became our #1 fans, look for every opportunity to promote the event. This included Twitter, Facebook, Radio, TV and any other media format they could engage. Doing daily segments for YouTube, but also playing an active role in souring new leads for media and also in guiding and advising the organisers on different aspects of making sure the event was Media Friendly. Michelle’s deep knowledge in renewable technology and Riaan’s practical approach to problems and understanding technology, meant that not only were they able to explain concepts to the viewers, Riaan was also our in-house handyman. My biggest fear is that next year they turn down the Ambassadorial office so they can run their own Solar Car team, I could see Riaan itching to build his own car.
Over the years, the government support of this event has grown. The Technology Innovation Agencies’ (TIA) support in providing financial support for South African teams, has resulted in strong teams in local universities. For 2014, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), after endorsing the event, decided to also enter 2 competing vehicles, and to sponsors some of the meals for the teams. I would like to thank the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor for attending the start of the Sasol Solar Challenge. This takes the event to new levels of government support. It is also important to thank the Department of Transport (DOT), as without them we would not be able to arrange the special permission we need to have unlicensed vehicles on the South African roads. DOT considers our plans each year, and issues a special letter to all affected traffic authorities. This result in wonderful support from the regional traffic authorities in all towns we pass through.
This year marked the first year that we partnered with a charity organisation to become part of the event. In spite of his own handicap Michael travelled with the event and gave a whole new meaning to ‘walking the extra mile’. A special thank you to Johan and Michael who made the effort to ensure two children with new prosthesis to be part of the award function to show the students and participants other applications for materials they use in their solar cars. We believe that this partnership will built on the success of the 2014 event.
Waste is one of the biggest problems of an event of this magnitude. This was one of the major focus points for this event as a Green Motorsport event, as we tried to achieve FIA Environmental Accreditation for the first time in solar car event history. Thank you to the Wasteplan ladies, Tina and Marieta, who collected, weighed and documented the waste daily in spite of the elements (on some days). Then also to Bertie who shared our vision of a zero waste event. Gavin from Probiotics – thank you for making time in your busy schedule to help us out on the event and ensuring that all wet waste goes to good use. I am sure that we will know soon if we have reached our goals towards the first Solar Challenge Worldwide achieving FIA Environmental Accreditation as well as the Environmental Award from MSA for 2014.
Since the first race in 2008 the CSIR has been the host of the start of the event. For the 2014 Solar Challenge the CSIR has become instrumental, not only to the start of the event, but also for getting involved in the scrutineering process. Marriette, Roel and Shakes you have done an outstanding job as our scrutineering experts, donating your time and expertise to make sure we have a safe event. For Patrick and Tumelo who managed the safety and security as well as the function at the start of the event. You made it seem so effortless to take over this logistical mountain from our hands. And then we definitely have to make special mention of the man behind the screen, who orchestrated all the processes and arrangements. Thank you Aubrey for all your time and effort to ensure that the start of the Sasol Solar Challenge 2014 was a success and became a well diarised event for the years to come. We hope to see the CSIR not only as ‘n sponsor, but also as a participant in the 2016 Solar Challenge.
Safety is always a big headache in an event of this magnitude. Being on open roads in normal traffic for eight days makes it very difficult to be everywhere and manage all possible medical and safety issues. The ER24 team did an outstanding job in ensuring exactly that. To Rob and Shaun who have been out guardian angels – THANK YOU. The security you brought with your presence during the event is highly appreciated. ER24 were not only confined to an ambulance, but you also brought with you a country wide infra-structure that was ready to help at your command. We are once again grateful that there were no serious incidents during this event.
Event Office – Sponsors
For every Solar Challenge there is the logistical nightmare of managing the event on route as it drives around the country. This year was a pleasure to manage the event from our mobile, air-cooled, online event office. This was all made possible by our sponsors Hoppecke, Steca and Solarworld. We are proud to say that we were off grid for the entire event thanks to the solar powered system provided. For the 2016 event our logistical planning first and foremost includes a solar powered event office. Thank you for this great asset and jewel to the Sasol Solar Challenge.
Driving around the country with solar vehicles is one thing, but ensuring that the logistical needs of the teams are met in regards to lead, tail and support vehicles is quite another. Then there’s also the officials that are the eyes and ears of the event and need to be at different places through the day. A great applause to Europcar who made this all possible. We are grateful for your patience in arranging our logistical requirements and amending it as the race progresses. It is fair to say that without your sponsorship we would literally still be stuck at the start line.
Since we approached John from Cansonic for a possible sponsorship he was boots and all part of the Sasol Solar Challenge. The teams were extremely excited to hear that there was a possibility of keeping the cameras after the event. The cameras were mounted in the chase cars for all the solar teams and kept close watch on the daily activities. Teams exchanged their SD cards daily at the event office, so that the event organisers could double check all activities that happened through the day. This was overall a great idea. Thank you Cansonic for the cameras! We believe that we have set a new standard for monitoring the event. John, your devotion and friendship during the 8 days on the event was a highlight to many of us.
To many teams water is a great concern, in such a way that in other challenges they might have logistical trucks only carrying water. Thank you to Oasis water that took this great burden from the organisers and teams. A special thanks to Koos and his family that travelled with us, making sure that each team member and official receives a water bottle that they could refill daily on the road. Venessa that made sure that we got that extra energy and water to pull us trough at the event office. It was a pleasure working with you and to know that water was just a phone call away if we needed another water point along the route.
This was the first year that the Sustainability Fleet had electric vehicle entrants from the formal Motor Industry. The four Nissan Leafs that entered into this year’s event were completely dependent for their livelihood on the sponsored BUNDU power generator. As these vehicles only have a maximum range of 140km, they need to recharge between the start and end of each day to make the daily stage distance of maximum 280km. We would like to thank Nick and his team for supplying the generator free of charge for the duration of the event. This was a life saver in many ways.
As the International teams start making arrangements to come through to the Challenge in South Africa one major concern they have is building space. Where are they going to find a place to put their car together and make it race ready? When we approached NECSA for the first time Ben took the initiative to arrange a meeting with the relevant people and came back with a positive answer. Elliot went out of his way to make sure NECSA stayed involved in the Solar Challenge. When it seemed to us that we might have a problem for some teams to enter the NECSA premises, it was again Elliot that took the initiative to sort it out. Thank you for your effort and enthusiasm in making this possible. To the rest of the team: Sello, John, Shaun and Mafihla and other people behind the screens. We appreciate the partnership we could form with NECSA and hope to follow up on this for the next event.
For any Motorsport event Timing is essential. Although this is a distance race, the timing of the event is extremely important as this can still define who wins the race at the end of the day. The daily start and final stop for the day need to be precise as this determine the penalties for each team. Traveling with the teams are the Observers who need to make comments and notes based on event times. By supplying watches to Observers and Officials the event times could be synchronised. Thank you to Shaun Bacher who saw the importance of time for our event and became the Timing Sponsor for the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge.
TomTom and TomTom WebFleet
Over the years the one things that the teams have demanded is quality routing information, this involved determination of the route, and then to extract very accurate GPS point, 1 value every 10m. Typical mapping services are not able to deliver this accuracy, but having TomTom as a partner, gave us access to both quality GPS services and accurate altitude data. TomTom in partnership with TomTom Webfleet, then installed devices in each of the chase vehicles allowing us to have the live tracking of all vehicles on the website. This vastly improved our ability to manage the event and also keep our supporters informed on the progress. Finally each team was also given a TomTom GPS Navigator showing them live traffic information. For 2014 TomTom introduced a special trophy for the team that best utilised telemetry information to support their planning for the Solar Challenge.
Each year we improve on the facilities offered to the teams, in 2008/10 we had a parking garage and an office parking lot for testing. In 2012 we used the Zwartkops track for half a day, in 2014 we used Zwartkops for 2 full days, but included access to the Gerotek testing facility for 10 Days before the event. This proved to be the most popular test facility for the teams. We would like to give special recognition to Gerotek for access to this facility, it is world class in all aspects, and I can’t see any other way, than to make Gerotek a much more integral part of our planning for 2016.
2 full days at the track, was what was needed to Scrutineer 10 Solar Cars. The Zwartkops track is a professional facility, and allowed us a broad set of services, from offices to pits areas for the teams, to access to the track and emergency services. This facility has facilitated our growth over the years and we are proud to have them as a service provider to the Solar Challenge.
Craig Seaman, is normally involved in traffic calming systems, but when we said we needed to show our solar car drivers how fast they were driving, he was first to step up and offer a solution. He reconfigured their normal traffic systems, to simply show the speed to the driver. This turned a normally very intensive manual process into a fully automated process that was both more accurate and easy to use than our past efforts. Thanks to Calm-I for this contribution.
University of Cape Town
For an event of this magnitude and exposure we wanted something special for the end. A special venue that is very much South African as there are international teams and guests from all over the world. UCT provided us with this venue: Jameson Hall with Table Mountain behind you and Cape Town at your feet. Thank you for a beautiful finale. We could’t have asked for something more suitable and special. All the people involved with the arrangements, especially Deidre. From safety to security it was all prepared for us. There is no other way to put is then to say that one and all were impressed with what UCT offered.
Not to leave anyone out…
There is a few people who went out of their way to either make it to the Sasol Solar Challenge or worked behind the screens to make it all possible.
- We would like to thank Marius, Ovi, Patrick and Bart for working on our Event Office around the clock. You did an outstanding job – Thank you.
- Oliver and Hans Gocherman. Thank you for making the time and effort to come all the way from Germany to experience the Sasol Solar Challenge. We enjoyed having you around.
- Karin and team from So-Solar, Botswana. It was great meeting you and we hope to have you more involved in the next Solar Challenge.
- Thank you JJ for meeting us in Port Elizabeth and immediately jumping in and helped with whatever was needed.
- Martin from Caledon. When we urgently needed an extra hand and an open home in Caledon you were more than willing to assist. And we’ll definitely take you up on that braai in 2016!
- Thank you Frik for always being eager to help.
- Jeroen, you couldn’t make it to this year challenge due to the arrival of two beautiful twin boys, but you offered much needed encouragement and support.
- To the Consolate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Thank you for getting involved on such short notice and sponsoring the pre-event drinks.
- Thank you to Old Gaol Restaurant in Swellendam who sponsored a meal for the Officials.
All those we have not named, including the schools and supporters. You are all very important to us, and if we have to name everyone it would take us another 6 months to complete this letter. We recognise that there where people that stepped us to help with registration, with food, traffic control and with moral support. As the event has grown from strength to strength it has demanded more and more from the teams, the communities, the organising committee and our loyal supporters, we thank you all for this. This year we should also mention the traffic officials along the way, where they directed traffic and in at least 4 occasions actually closed down a section of the town to support the event. I would like to leave the last thanks for the spouses of all those named and unnamed, especially Marinda, Jennifer and Jessica, I know
you have had endless patience in allowing us all the latitude to make a good job of this event. I hope we will be counting on all of you in 2016.
A hearty Thank-you from Winstone
THANK YOU all for making the SASOL SOLAR CHALLENGE 2014 a success!!