The 2021 Sasol Solar Challenge (SSC) will be deferred to 2022. The decision comes as South Africa and other countries experience a spike in COVID-19 cases, putting Challenge participants at risk.
“This was a difficult decision, but the safety of our participants must come first.” said Dean Somerset, manager of group brand and sponsorships at Sasol. “We appreciate the patience of the solar challenge community, and continue to support the government in its efforts to mitigate the impact of the virus.”
The event was provisionally scheduled to take place from 21 to 25 February 2021 following a postponement from September 2020. A new track format was arranged at the Red Star Raceway near Delmas, Mpumalanga, where participants could be isolated and the event livestreamed.
Organisers, sponsors and participants have, however, now agreed to focus on the 2022 event.
The SSC attracts a high level of professional participation from leading solar teams who manufacture fully functional, roadworthy solar-powered cars. Traditionally, local and international teams compete every two years, driving between Johannesburg and Cape Town for eight days, with host communities providing accommodation, pit stop facilities and local hospitality.
Teams from around the world design and build the solar-powered cars, often in collaboration with leading technology companies testing cutting-edge concepts. This development requires consistency, focus and funding, and has been significantly hampered by the global pandemic.
“It’s important to remember that the Sasol Solar Challenge isn’t just about the kilometers driven during the week we host the teams,” said Walker. “It’s also about partnerships between leading global technology companies and the universities building the cars, and about what participation in these challenges means to the global engineering, motoring and renewable energy industries. We trust we will see our teams, partners and funders bring the high quality, cutting edge technology we’ve come to expect to our roads again in 2022.”
Dates for the 2022 event will be announced on the SSC’s social media platforms and website, where teams, partners and funders can continue to receive updates.
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Anzet du Plessis