Sasol Race Report #8

Here are the final results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, after 8 days of racing (click to zoom). The photo is from here (taken on day 8), and the daily “loops” are marked. Only the Challenger class is shown (City U, the only car in the Sustainability class, did 175.5 km). The big news was the penalty of 117.4 km imposed on Nuon when a sick team member dropped their bag in the wrong van. The kilometres subtracted by the penalty are marked with light orange in the chart above. They did not, in the end, affect the outcome of the race.

Nuon has some excellent videos about the race (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, day 6, day 7, and day 8. In addition, I should note that SER came 3rd in a tough race, which probably puts them in the world top 10. Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) have taken over as South African champions. Congratulations! And the high school team Sonke (from St Alban’s College and St Augustine’s LEAP School) also deserves a special commendation, displaying both talent and persistence.

After WSC 2017, several people (including me) attributed Nuon’s large lead (see the chart below) to clever weather strategy. But this race, where all cars have been more or less in the same part of the country, suggests that, as well as having flawless race strategy, Nuon have a car that really is significantly faster than all the others (roughly 7% faster than Tokai in Australia, and 6% faster here). This fact may encourage other WSC teams to stick with a tried-and-true catamaran design (as Canadian teams Poly Montreal and ETS Quebec have done). And Nuon themselves? I cannot see how they can possibly improve on Nuna 9S. Maybe they will try something radically different, just for a change.