Strategy and adventure were the key themes for day five of the Sasol Solar Challenge, as teams tried to navigate the secret route (blind stage), that was only revealed to them on Monday night. The towns which formed the secret route were Jansenville and Willowmore. Teams had to work overnight to plan for day five, mapping and working on their solar cars in preparation for this day.
Seven of the eight teams managed to get on the road. Despite the distance and challenges on the road, all seven teams managed to cross day five finish line before 17:00.
Agoria Solar Team started working on their strategy for the blind stage on Monday. As they were racking-up kilometres on day four, they were also managing their energy consumption to ensure they endure the challenge.
“We were very surprised that there were no real loops in today's course. However, we were prepared for this day. Yesterday we were driving slower to save battery energy for the blind stage,” said Emma Stalmans, team spokesperson. “After receiving the envelope about the blind stage, some of our team members started mapping the route. Our strategists also immediately started to work with the data that they received, to determine the optimal strategy for today and we did our best to pass the test of endurance.”
Brunel Solar Team said they enjoyed the route.
“We were curious about what the route would be. When we saw it the first time, we were delighted that it was a fixed route without any loops,” said Lucas Frantzen, team spokesperson. “To prepare for the blind stage, there was lot of work that was requited to be done by our strategists. They navigated the route, checked the height profiles, mapped speed limits and determined potential spots for driver changes. However, most importantly they were able to set out a strategy for the rest of the challenge.”
The local teams also did well on the blind stage.
The North West University Solar Car Team said they didn’t have to do lots of preparation as they were mostly focused on the key points of the route.
“Although the distance was quite daunting and paused a real challenge on the team, our strategists ran a few scenarios and our navigator studied critical points of the route, and we did our best to add on our kilometres,” said Wynand Grobler, spokesperson for NWU Solar Car Team.
Meanwhile, the Tshwane University of Technology found the blind stage to be challenging for local teams.
TUT team managers said: “The blind stage was tough for local teams, some were forced to trailer. However, features such as the blind stage does keep the event interesting and pushes us to our limits.”
They added that: “We had to consider all options to still be able to do some kilometres but at the same time have enough battery for the next three days, especially the last two days which has various hills and mountains.”
Genuine JV also pushed their limits and managed to do double kilometres.
“Our plan for the blind stage was to reduce the team to only go with a core team and get some kilometres. We then changed our plans twice during the course of the day and eventually doubled the kilometres of what we planned to do.”
UniChamps Solar Car Team found the blind stage interesting, as they expected the road to have steep hills.
“After receiving the envelopes, we then gathered with the team and came up with a strategy. Some of the team members are familiar with the towns so it was easier to navigate some of the areas,” said Lebogang Lebea, team leader.
After burning their motor controller on the first day of the event, SolarFlair still managed to do kilometres in the past few days. Today they participated in the blind stage and racked-up 44 kilometres.
“As our team is on survival mode, we opted to do just the first leg to the first control-stop, and it turned out well because we drove nearly all the way to the stop. We will be on the road the next three days and aim to cross the finish line in Cape Town,” said Klasie Botha, team manager.
The team that couldn’t particate in the blind stage is the University of the Free State Solar Team. The team decided to stay behind to work on their solar car.
“We were curious about the blind stage, however, we decided to stay behind in Graaff-Reinet to recharge our car and do some repairs,” said Dr Hendrik Van Heerden, team leader. “As first time participants in the Sasol Solar Challenge, most of the activities are a bit tougher than we thought. The blind stage seemed interesting but our car was not in a good state for the blind stage.”
Robert Walker, Owner and Director of the Sasol Solar Challenge said: “Day five was a real test of endurance. The teams really pushed their limits and demonstrated their engineering skills and strategies during the bling stage. We hope to see more of their skills and talents for the half blind stage on 15 September.”
Day five results are as follows:
- Agoria Solar Team – 501 km (16:58:36)
- Brunel Solar Team – 501 km (16:58:39)
- TUT Solar Team – 130 km* (car trailered)
- NWU Solar Car Team – 170 km* (car trailered)
- Genuine JV Solar Car Team – 90 km* (car trailered)
- University of the Free State Solar Team – 2 km* (car trailered)
- SolarFlair – 91 km* (car trailered)
- Seilatsatsi (CUT) – (Withdrawn from the Sasol Solar Challenge)
- UniChamps Solar Car Team – 44 km* (car trailered)
Spectators are welcome at all stops, and more information on the route and the teams can be found at:
https://www.solarchallenge.org.za/ or on social media:
Sasol Solar Challenge App
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