Stellenbosch, South Africa – The Dutch Nuon Solar team has won the 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge, clocking a distance of 4,030.4 kilometres on public roads from Pretoria to Stellenbosch. Arriving today after a tough final loop, they narrowly beat the Tokai University Solar Car team, who completed 3,941.4 kilometres.
Together, the nine teams competing this year drove 16,249.1 kilometres, stopping in 18 towns. The Sasol Solar Challenge is held every second year as a testament to the power of science, engineering, maths and technology. On their journey through South Africa, the solar cars become travelling laboratories, demonstrating to the schools that join them at each stop exactly what practically applying those subjects can achieve.
Swiss Solar Energy Racers placed third despite challenges on the road, completing 2,642.1 km in total. Their cockpit cover sustained damage early on in the eight-day challenge, and the team had to repair damage overnight. The group of students rallied, and still managed a comfortable 300 kilometre lead on the next car.
In the local battle, Tshwane University of Technology’s Sun Chaser 3 finished an impressive 2,397 kilometres, 120.7 kilometres ahead of the North-West University car, Phoenix. TUT’s solar team also experienced a tough first day, with their solar panel blowing off on the road to Kroonstad and having to be significantly rebuilt.
High school team Sonke covered an admirable 656.9 kilometres with their first ever solar car, something which the two schools hope to repeat in coming years, given sponsorship. The kids, aged 14 to 18, built all elements of the vehicle under guidance of team manager and teacher Rob Lodge, who runs the project to demonstrate the practical side of STEM subjects, an inspire young people en route.
Newcomers from the Central University of Technology and Cape Peninsula University of Technology demonstrated the spirit of never giving up, working tirelessly all eight days to troubleshoot challenges with their cars. The Bloemfontein-based CUT clocked a full 110.3 kilometres. After persevering with their car until the very last, CPUT managed 19.2 kilometres, and both crossed the line to high praise from their fellow competitors for their incredible work ethic.
From Hong Kong, the sole competitor in the Sustainability class, for which charging is allowed, City University completed 175.5 kilometres. With their hyper-realistic car, Reysol, a crowd-pleasing addition to the event this year, they aim to use this experience to return in 2020 with an all improved vehicle.
This year’s event will wrap up at an awards function on Sunday, 30 September. The public’s last chance to see these high-tech, experimental cars is from 10h00 to 14h00 at GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World in Cape Town.