Following up from his previous guest post about the Challenger class, today Nigel, our UK-based guest blogger, explains why Team 43 is his favourite in the WSC Cruiser class.
Made in England (Part 2)
Moving on to the Cruiser Class and my second choice. Two weeks ago it was simple, Bochum’s SunRiser is the best looking solar car I’ve ever seen and I hope it wins the event. But then, gradually, my new favourite began to emerge from the shadows – Ardingly College’s imaginatively named Ardingly Solar Car. And perhaps that is why I like this car so much, it leaves very little to the imagination – it’s a solar car and it was made in Ardingly. Furthermore you can see just how it was made, no secrets here – it’s all on show.
I first heard about this project three years ago when the school visited CUER and announced that they were going to build a solar car to race at WSC. Now, lots of teams say that they are going to do just that and many times they do not get anywhere near. I took their promises with a pinch of salt.
Then, in June, the WSC Team List was published and there in the list of Cruisers was Ardingly Solar. I re-visited the team’s website that I had stopped even looking at ages ago and, sure enough, very little had changed. Obviously the team had forgotten to withdraw their initial application but, just in case, I e-mailed the team to find out what they were doing. They replied and I put them in touch with Jeroen Haringman at solarracing.org and we received a picture of a chassis. This was taken in April 2015, the team are secondary (high) school students and all they had was a steel frame, obviously there was no way that they would make it to Australia.
Well, consider my hat well and truly eaten. The car is on its way, the team will follow soon and that steel frame is the reason I like their car so much.
I like High School Solar Teams in general, I like the honest engineering of their cars. By and large they are not able to secure huge sponsorship deals or to work with large manufacturers so they have to find different solutions.
In Ardingly College’s case that solution was the Lotus 7. You can find plans for a Lotus 7 chassis very easily on the internet, copy it and you know it will work. Add a few bits for safety and you are away.
Ardingly did just that, then they made some panels for the side, they added a motor, some batteries and some seats, stuck on some solar arrays and turned out a beautiful little car. I know it is not as simple as I make it sound, it takes hours of hard work and some very special people who are prepared to share their knowledge for nothing but to help a few youngsters. Those youngsters also have to be very special to carry it through but now I’m sure they will find it was worth it.
They won’t win this race, they will do very well to even keep up with the pace they need to avoid putting their car on the trailer but they should know, as they sit on the start line in Darwin, that what they have done already is remarkable.
But if they have made a car that is driven by electric motors, that has batteries that can be charged by the sun and can drive for more than 40 miles per day then they have made a car that suits the needs of most people. And if this is the start just imagine where we might finish.