Sasol Solar Challenge Update

The Sasol Solar Challenge is on again in September this year, with scrutineering beginning on the 4th. The chart above shows the teams registered for the event (the Dutch and Belgian teams have already arrived in South Africa). I also keep a more detailed annotated list of teams up to date.

Results of the 2018 race are shown below (the winners, now called Brunel, are back again, as are TUT, NWU, and CUT). The official race social media is at      


Solar racing car numbers

As in all races, solar racing cars are identified by number. Some solar car numbers are simply traditional, like the 8 for Agoria Solar Team from Belgium (above). Others have a specific meaning, as shown in the chart below.

Some numbers are lucky in some way, such as 21 = “Twente-One.” Some are coded references to solar technology, such as 55 = the year that Western Electric began to sell licenses for silicon PV technology. Alternatively, numbers indicate the team’s home base. This can be done by specifying a road, such as the the Interstate 35 or Strade Statali 9 = the Via Aemilia. More commonly, telephone country or area codes are used, such as 40 = Eindhoven, 46 = Sweden, 82 = South Korea, or 828 = western North Carolina. Not shown in the chart is 34 = the vehicle license plate prefix for Istanbul.

Mobile phone picture by Rafael Fernandez


Race the Sun: where are they now?

The 1996 movie Race the Sun is almost sacred in the solar car racing community. It fictionalises the true story of a Hawaiian high school team racing in the World Solar Challenge in Australia. But where is the cast now?

Teachers

  • Halle Berry (Sandra Beecher): became a major star, playing Storm in X-Men, Ginger Knowles in Swordfish, and many other roles.
  • Jim Belushi (Frank Machi): already well known in 1996, he has acted in multiple later films, such as The Ghost Writer.

Left: Halle Berry at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con (cropped from a photo by Gage Skidmore); Centre: Pritzker School of Medicine in Chicago, where Sara Tanaka did her initial medical training; Right: Casey Affleck in 2016 (cropped from a photo by Bex Walton)

Solar Car Race Team

  • Casey Affleck (Daniel Webster): has acted in multiple films. For his role in Manchester by the Sea, he won several awards.
  • Eliza Dushku (Cindy Johnson): continued on to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and various film and TV work. In later years, she became politically active.
  • Anthony Ruivivar (Eduardo Braz): has acted in various films and has frequently played policemen on television.
  • Sara Tanaka (Uni Kakamura): graduated in Medicine from the University of Chicago in 2008, and then specialised in cardiology. She now practices, I believe, in New York.
  • Dion Basco (Marco Quito): had a few other acting roles.
  • J. Moki Cho (Gilbert Tutu): became a musician, and is on Instagram and on YouTube.
  • Nadja Pionilla (Oni Nagano): had a few other acting roles, and is on Twitter.
  • Adriane Napualani Uganiza (Luana Kanahele): I don’t know what happened to her.

Other Characters

  • Steve Zahn (Hans Kooiman): various film and TV work, including a role as an ape in War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).
  • Joel Edgerton (Steve Fryman): acted in multiple films, including playing the young Owen Lars in several Star Wars films.
  • Kevin Tighe (Jack Fryman): acted in film and television, as well as on stage.
  • Bill Hunter (Commissioner Hawkes): after acting in numerous films, he died in 2011.
  • Jeff Truman (Ed Webster): after a career of acting and writing, he died in 2014.

With the obvious exceptions, I would like to see one of these people at the start (or finish) of a major solar car race.


Solar Car World Record

In 2020, I blogged about Brunel (then Vattenfall) Solar Team breaking their own world record to clock up 924 km in 12 solar-powered hours on the track, for an average of 77 km/h (see above).

I was busy at the time, but I need to mention that Agoria Solar Team from Belgium broke that record last month in their BluePoint Atlas, clocking up 1,051 km (653 miles) in 12 solar-powered hours on the track, for an average of 87.6 km/h or 54.4 mph (see below). Congratulations, zuiderburen! That’s going to be a tough record to beat.


European Solar Challenge 2022

Here is a list of 14 teams from 10 countries (7 Challenger teams and 7 Cruiser teams) intending to race in the iLumen European Solar Challenge in September this year (with scrutineering beginning on the 15th). Team numbers are a bit of a guess on my part at this stage, and some of the teams (Aachen, Eindhoven, and Twente) will be fielding two cars. See also the race social media at      

The 24-hour track race will start at 13:00 on the 17th, with sunset at 19:49 that evening and sunrise at 07:18 the next morning, and with the race continuing until 13:00 on the 18th. The race will begin with a Le Mans-style start. The track is 4.011 km long. For fans at home interested in the weather, check the forecast. Also, at the top of this page is a webcam nearby, looking west, towards the Zolder racetrack. This webcam is at the track itself (with a view of the “Kleine Chicane,” looking roughly north from just about the centre of the track).

BE  Agoria Solar Team / KU Leuven 

Asymmetric challenger (BluePoint) – they are racing their catamaran here, and their newer BluePoint Atlas in South Africa.

Previously, Agoria came 6th at WSC 13; came 5th at WSC 15; came 3rd at WSC 17; won WSC 19; came 3rd at Abu Dhabi 15; came 2nd at iESC 16; came 6th at iESC 18; came 1st and 6th at iESC 20; won iESC 21; won Carrera Solar Atacama 18; and came 2nd at SCM 21. Their team number (8) is a long-standing tradition.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

IT  Onda Solare 

Four-seat cruiser (Emilia 4 LT) – they won the American Solar Challenge (Cruiser class) in 2018, and they have written up their design process here, but they have since made substantial improvements to the vehicle, including to the aerodynamics, suspension, battery, and solar panels. There is also an unusual open tail. Immediately after iESC, they will also be attending the Italian Solar Challenge near Bologna    

Previously, Onda came 10th at WSC 13; participated in the WSC 19 Cruiser class; won the ASC 18 Cruiser class; came 10th at Abu Dhabi 15; came 6th at iESC 16; and won the iESC 21 Cruiser class. Their team number (9) is taken from the SS 9, the highway through Bologna, which was once the Roman Via Aemilia (hence also the name of their vehicle).

 
Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

11  DE  Hochschule Bochum Solar Car Team 

Two-seat cruiser (thyssenkrupp SunRiser) – for the 2019 World Solar Challenge, Bochum improved their sexy 2-seater SunRiser, which came 3rd in 2015. They also have a solar buggy team. Their current plans involve driving a 2003 vintage Land Rover Defender 110 across Europe, but they will race their SunRiser here.

Previously, Bochum came 2nd in the WSC 13 Cruiser class; came 3rd in the WSC 15 Cruiser class; came 2nd in the WSC 17 Cruiser class; came 4th in the WSC 19 Cruiser class; came 3rd, 4th, and 5th at iESC 16; came 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in the iESC 18 Cruiser class; came 3rd and 4th in the iESC 21 Cruiser class; came 1st and 7th at Albi Eco 18; came 1st and 2nd at Albi Eco 19; and came 3rd at Albi Eco 22.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

17  CO  Kratos EAFIT 

Two-seat cruiser (Kratos) – this team seems to be building a new 4-seater Kratos II, but racing their older 2-seater. Their car has been packed for shipping.

Previously, Kratos came 13th at WSC 13; came 9th at WSC 15; participated at iESC 16; and came 4th in the iESC 18 Cruiser class.

 
Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

21  NL  Solar Team Twente 

Three-wheel (tadpole) challenger (Red Horizon) – they are also racing their 2019 catamaran RED E.

Previously, Twente came 3rd at WSC 13; came 2nd at WSC 15; came 5th at WSC 17; came 17th at WSC 19; won iESC 16; came 1st and 2nd at iESC 18; came 2nd and 4th at iESC 20; came 3rd at iESC 21; and won SCM 21. Their team number (21) is a pun and a wish for success in the race (“Twente-One”).

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

23  GB  University of Nottingham Solar Racing Team 

Cruiser (new team) – their rather radical approach is to modify a Renault Twizy to have solar panels, improved electrics, and second life Nissan Leaf batteries. They aim to participate at iESC 2022 with their first car.


photo: UoN team (click image to zoom)

31  CH  Solar Energy Racers 

Challenger (SER-4) – they raced their SER-3 in South Africa and Australia, but they are racing their new SER-4 here.

Previously, SER came 5th at WSC 13; came 15th at WSC 19; came 2nd at ASC 16; came 11th at Abu Dhabi 15; came 3rd at SASOL 18; came 8th at iESC 16; and came 4th at iESC 21.


photo: Anthony Dekker (click image to zoom)

34  TR  Istanbul Technical University (ITU) 

Challenger (Ariba X) – this car replaces their older B.O.W. It has been touring Turkey before the race.

Previously, ITU came 17th at WSC 13; participated at WSC 17; came 7th at iESC 16; came 7th at iESC 20; and came 8th at iESC 21. Their team number (34) is the vehicle license plate prefix for Istanbul.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

40  NL  Solar Team Eindhoven 

Four-seat cruiser (Stella Era) – their focus for 2021 was a Self-sustaining House On Wheels (Stella Vita). They are racing both it and their Stella Era here.

Previously, Eindhoven won the WSC 13 Cruiser class; won the WSC 15 Cruiser class; won the WSC 17 Cruiser class; won the WSC 19 Cruiser class; came 7th in the iESC 18 Cruiser class; and came 1st and 2nd in the iESC 20 Cruiser class. Their team number (40) is the Eindhoven telephone area code.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

45  PL  Lodz Solar Team 

Four-seat cruiser (Eagle Two) – this car is still going strong.

Previously, Lodz participated in the WSC 15 Cruiser class; participated in the WSC 17 Cruiser class; participated in the WSC 19 Cruiser class; came 5th at SASOL 16; won the iESC 18 Cruiser class; and came 2nd in the iESC 21 Cruiser class. Their team number (45) is a tradition since 2015.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

51  SE  Chalmers Solar Team 

Three-wheel (tadpole) challenger (Sköll) – they are racing their elegant bullet car again.

Previously, Chalmers came 21st at WSC 19; came 5th at iESC 21; participated at Swedish Solar Race 21; and came 6th at SCM 21.

 
Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

70  DE  Sonnenwagen Aachen 

Three-wheel (outrigger) challenger (Covestro Photon) – they are also racing their older monohull, Covestro Sonnenwagen. Immediately after iESC, they will also be attending the Italian Solar Challenge near Bologna    

Previously, Aachen participated at WSC 17; came 6th at WSC 19; came 3rd at iESC 18; came 5th and 8th at iESC 20; came 2nd and 6th at iESC 21; and came 5th at SCM 21. Their team number (70) is the number they raced with in 2017.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

81  TR  Solar Team Solaris (Dokuz Eylül University) 

Challenger (S11) – they have replaced their old catamaran with a bullet car, which they will be racing again. Immediately after iESC, they will also be attending the Italian Solar Challenge near Bologna    

Previously, Solaris participated in the WSC 13 Adventure class; came 25th at WSC 15; came 18th at WSC 19; came 9th at iESC 16; came 7th at iESC 21; came 2nd at Albi Eco 18; and came 2nd at MSRC 19.

 
Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

99  NL  Fontys Automotive Solar Team (NovaFAST) 

Two-seat cruiser (new team) – this new team from the Fontys University of Applied Sciences is located in the Eindhoven area, 19 km from Solar Team Eindhoven. They aim to participate at iESC 2022 with their first car, and their roadmap has them participating at WSC in 2025.


picture credit (click image to zoom)

This page last updated 16:53 on 6 August 2022 AEST.


The Michigan Sun Run

Leading US solar car team University of Michigan, rather than competing in races this year, has taken their most recent solar car Aevum on an epic journey across the United States (see images above and below).

In this, they are following in the footsteps of Bochum’s SolarWorld GT which, as part of its round-the-world trip in 2012, clocked up a scenic 6,553 km in just over 50 days, from San Francisco via Dallas to Charleston, SC. They are also, more or less, following the route of the “Cannonball Sun,” which fellow Michigan residents Will Jones, Kyle Samluk, and Danny Ezzo attempted in their Pink Skies in June last year.

Here’s hoping it all goes more smoothly for the Maize and Blue. For more information, see Michigan’s official route page and their social media at  


Sasol Solar Challenge 2022

Here is a list of 9 teams from 3 countries (8 Challenger teams and 1 Cruiser team) intending to race in the Sasol Solar Challenge in September this year, with scrutineering beginning on the 4th (Alfaisal Solar Car Team, SunShuttle, and high school team Sonke seem to have dropped off the list). See also the race social media at      

NL  Brunel Solar Team (Delft) 

Three-wheel (outrigger) challenger (Nuna11s) – their latest car features an asymmetrical top surface (to create more downforce on the left wheel). As usual, they have modified the car for the South African race, to give an “s” version. This includes building a more powerful motor and returning to having a lithium ion battery. The team has already flown out, and can be followed at brunelsolarteam.com/race.

Previously, Delft won WSC 13; won WSC 15; won WSC 17; came 12th at WSC 19; won SASOL 14; won SASOL 16; won SASOL 18; and came 3rd at SCM 21. Their team number (3) is a long-standing tradition.

 
Left: credit / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

BE  Agoria Solar Team / KU Leuven 

Three-wheel (tadpole) challenger (BluePoint Atlas) – they are racing their record-breaking monohull here, and their older BluePoint in Belgium. The are already in South Africa. During the race, they can be tracked at live.solarteam.be.

Previously, Agoria came 6th at WSC 13; came 5th at WSC 15; came 3rd at WSC 17; won WSC 19; came 3rd at Abu Dhabi 15; came 2nd at iESC 16; came 6th at iESC 18; came 1st and 6th at iESC 20; won iESC 21; won Carrera Solar Atacama 18; and came 2nd at SCM 21. Their team number (8) is a long-standing tradition.

 
Left: Anthony Dekker / Right: credit (click images to zoom)

ZA  Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) 

Challenger (new car: Sun Chaser 4) – they won a preliminary race in Mpumalanga against NWU and Genuine JV.

Previously, TUT came 6th at SASOL 16; came 4th at SASOL 18; and won Ilanga Cup 22.


picture credit (click image to zoom)

ZA  North West University 

Challenger (Naledi 2.0) – they are looking to reclaim the “best South African team” title, which they lost to TUT in 2018, by heavily modifying their original Naledi. So far the car looks good.

Previously, NWU came 11th at WSC 15; participated at WSC 17; came 4th at SASOL 14; came 4th at SASOL 16; came 5th at SASOL 18; and came 2nd at Ilanga Cup 22.


picture credit (click image to zoom)

ZA  Genuine JV Solar Car Team  

Asymmetric challenger (new team with car: Voltwagen) – this is a new team, from Hoër Tegnologiese Skool John Vorster in Pretoria. Their car is the old car from Tshwane University of Technology, with improvements. Read about them in Afrikaans here.

Previously, JV came 3rd at Ilanga Cup 22.


picture credit (click image to zoom)

ZA  Central University of Technology (Seilatsatsi) 

Challenger (new car: Ntsu) – they are buidling a new car. Some components have been 3D-printed. Their car name is the Sesotho word for an eagle.

Previously, Seilatsatsi came 7th at SASOL 18.


picture credit (click image to zoom – OLD PIC)

ZA  University of the Free State 

Challenger (new team with car: Lengau) – this team is led by the Departments of Physics and Engineering Sciences at UFS. Their car name is the Sesotho word for a cheetah.


picture credit (click image to zoom)

ZA  SolarFlair

Challenger (new team with car: SolarFlair SP 400) – this team is from Mbombela in Mpumalanga province. They were a no-show in the Ilanga Cup.


picture credit (click image to zoom)

ZA  UniChamps Solar Car Team (University of South Africa)

Cruiser (new team with car: UniSolar) – they say “The car design was inspired by both the Lamborghini Countach LP500 and DeLorean DMC.”


picture credit (click image to zoom)

This page last updated 22:04 on 13 August 2022 AEST.


High School Solar Car Challenge 2022 Results

I have been following the (High School) Solar Car Challenge this year, mostly on my Twitter and Instagram accounts. The chart above shows the final lap counts for the event.

In the chart, stars mark teams that were on the podium last race (and these are also the teams that dominated this year). Black numbers show the number of laps for the race (official totals), and white numbers the laps each day (based on preliminary and unofficial results). Teams were also credited with between 15 and 20 laps for their video presentations (submitted before the race).

All of these high school teams can be deservedly proud of a job well done, but none more so then RAHS Green Energy Team (winner of the Advanced Division), who on day 3 had already beaten the race record of 659 laps which they set in 2019, and who finished with a very impressive total of 876 laps (1,314 miles)!

Iron Lions, in another attractive catamaran, came second, with 644 laps. Other division winners were:

  • Advanced Classic Division: Covenant Christian Academy, with 467 laps
  • Classic Division: Holy Solars (from Kent, CT, and new to the Classic Division last year), with 325 laps
  • Electric-Solar Powered Division: The Heroes’ Alliance Vehicle Technology Team (from Detroit, MI), with 308 laps

Note: these numbers, and the chart above, have been edited to reflect changes to the official website.

The photograph below shows all teams (the 39 MB original image is here). For other information, see the official website.


Results of the ASC 2022 Road Race

Wrapping up the American Solar Challenge, the chart above shows the final official distances. The chart places optional “loops” driven at the end of each stage, even mid-stage loops. At the bottom of each bar is the final placing, with a star marking MOV (Cruiser) cars. The notation “(Tr)” identifies cars that trailered or were deemed to have trailered.

Below is a logarithmic visualisation of the MOV (Cruiser) scoring. The final score (last bar in each group) is the product (visually, the sum, since the chart uses logarithms) of seven factors:

  • The distance driven d (in miles)
  • The distance driven with penalties d’ (in miles)
  • The average number of people p in the car
  • The reciprocal of the total external energy usage E (in kWh)
  • The practicality score P (out of 100)
  • The speed derating T (1/70.86 = 0.014 for AppState)
  • In grey, the reciprocal h of 171,780 (the longest distance driven, times 100)

This is equivalent to the way that the scores are broken down officially (since C = d’/1717.8 and D = d×p).

The final score for AppState is 1/4.2 = 0.24, as in the official results. Esteban (Poly Montreal) achieved the highest score through low total external energy usage, but was demoted to third place after missing a turnoff early in the race, which prompted this retrospective modification to regulation 12.11.C:

“Any team leaving the tour route must rejoin the route at the same intersection where they left the route or they will be considered to have trailered from their last completed route step before going off route. Their Load On Trailer Time will be the time that they went off route.”

PrISUm (Iowa State University) was forced to withdraw early on due to electrical issues, so scores 4th in the MOV (Cruiser) class.


Challenges in the ASC 2022 Road Race

True to the name, there have been some challenges in the American Solar Challenge now taking place. On the first stage, Esteban (Poly Montreal) missed a turnoff, prompting this modification to regulation 12.11.C:

“Any team leaving the tour route must rejoin the route at the same intersection where they left the route or they will be considered to have trailered from their last completed route step before going off route. Their Load On Trailer Time will be the time that they went off route.”

PrISUm (Iowa State University) was forced to withdraw early on due to electrical issues

“Unfortunately things did no go as planned for PrISUm. Due to safety concerns for both the car and our team, we did not want to drive the car any farther. It is unfortunate that there was an electrical issue, which is hard to quickly and safely fix on race. We are very proud of our team performance at FSGP, compared to the last couple of years. Thank you to everyone for all of your support and following us throughout our journey.”

Canadian team Éclipse (ÉTS) had a major crisis on stage 2:

“On our 2nd loop in the city of Casper, our topshell detached from the vehicle; no injuries. The damage from this incident to the vehicle is not minor, but we worked very hard to get it back on the road! Thank you to all who helped!

Solar panels replaced, topshell corner redone in carbon fiber wet layup, tightened security attachments, lights picked up, stronger canopy, MPPTs repaired and even two flat tires all under 24h our convoy made it to time at stagepoint #2 in Lander, Wyoming just minutes from closing! The vehicle is in shape, today we are driving to Montpellier, Idaho.”

Illini (University of Illinois) had a narrow miss on the same stage:

“Today on our way to Lander, the team and Brizo faced a very near collision. As the convoy was waiting to turn left along the route, a semi lost control and tried to swerve around a pickup in front. The semi crashed a few feet from Brizo and the pickup truck landed mere inches from our chase car. Thankfully the entire team and Brizo were unharmed. However due to lost time, we had to trailer part of the second stage. Tonight we arrived in Lander and are ready for the rest of the American Solar Challenge.”

Official times for the first two stages are summarised in the chart below. The chart places optional “loops” driven at the end of each stage, even mid-stage loops. MIT leads the SOV/Challenger class, followed by Principia and Kentucky. The MOV/Cruiser scoring system is more complex, and only distances are shown here. However, Minnesota does appear to be ahead.

Latest news had most solar cars arriving at the Montpelier, Idaho checkpoint (including AppState and, I believe, Berkeley):

Follow the remainder of the race with the ASC car tracker (or just the dashboard). You can also check out the official ASC social media at        (click on the icons).