European Solar Challenge: Results (2)

This will be the second of two posts on the results of the just-completed iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC), following on from this post.

To begin with, consider this chart of lap counts over time (using the same colours as the previous charts). Problems, recharges, and even (if you look closely) driver changes are clearly visible (click to zoom). The dotted red line shows the champion performance of Solar Team Twente in 2016, surpassed by 5 cars this year. The dotted blue line shows the fastest Cruiser, Bochum’s 2013 PowerCore SunCruiser, in that same race (bear in mind, though, that it drove with no passengers, while this year both Stella Era and Stella Vie ran with 3 passengers each!). Particularly notable is the Belgian decision to allow BluePoint only one recharge stop (the sunny weather and the superb efficiency of the car made that feasible).

This chart shows the calculation of the final scores, incorporating points for most laps, for dynamic parcour timing, and for fastest lap. The left-hand coloured bars (total scores) are each the sum of the other bars of the same colour. So Agoria 1st, Twente 2nd, and Top Dutch 3rd:

Scoring in the Cruiser class was simplified to be based on laps, but with bonus laps for the dynamic parcour timing and fastest lap won by Stella Vie. Nevertheless, Stella Era still won: Eindhoven 1st and 2nd. I won’t include a chart for that.

European Solar Challenge: Results (1)

This will be the first of two posts on the results of the just-completed iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC). If anyone doubted that BluePoint is the fastest solar car in the world, Agoria Solar Team from Belgium proved them wrong. In 24 hours, they drove almost the distance from Darwin to Alice Springs on the very challenging Zolder track (click the image to zoom):

All five of the top cars broke the record set by Solar Team Twente in the 2016 race.

After some battles for the fastest-lap title, Top Dutch won that, reprising their performance in the 2019 World Solar challenge qualifier (the Covestro Sonnenwagen from Sonnenwagen Aachen came second, and Stella Vie from Solar Team Eindhoven third):

I also looked at lap time distributions (I have re-done this analysis since I posted on social media, using the official laptimes rather than my sample). The data includes time spent in the pits, so I drew an arbitrary cutoff at 600 seconds (10 minutes) for a lap. The histogram below shows these lap time distributions. Note the very consistent driving speed of the two Belgian subteams, driving BluePoint and Punch 2. Equally consistent was RED Shift, driven by experienced alumni of Solar Team Twente:

The chart below shows the same data temporally (with an 8-minute cutoff this time). The two fast laps by Top Dutch can be seen, as can the fast lap by the Covestro Sonnenwagen. Car problems show up clearly in this view, as does the consistent driving of the Belgians:

European Solar Challenge: Dynamic Parcour

The iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC) is ongoing. All cars have passed scrutineering, either yesterday or this morning, and all but SER got some test laps in this morning as well.

Today (Friday) saw the rather nail-biting “dynamic parcour,” which counts for 22.2% of the final score (and which at times came down to milliseconds!). Results are shown above (stars mark Cruiser-class cars), and some snapshots below (click to zoom). Well done, Green Lightning!

Credits: 1. RED Shift shows how it’s done; 2. Spotting Stella Era; 3. The winning driver; 4. Aachen’s Covestro Sonnenwagen begins its run (notice the timing device on the side of the car).

European Solar Challenge: Thursday morning

In the iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC), scrutineering will take place today (Thursday), followed by the “dynamic parcour” tomorrow (Friday) and the main 24-hour track race on the weekend.

Because of Covid, the iESC is not open to the public. Fortunately, there is a plethora of technology options for following the race remotely:

Here are some snapshots from Zolder (click to zoom):

Credits: 1. Aachen settles in at Zolder, 2. SER heads out on a 700-km drive early on Thursday, 3. Agoria prepares for scrutineering, 4. aerial photograph by Circuit Zolder.

European Solar Challenge: the teams arrive

Below (click to zoom) is my final chart of cars for the 24-hour iLumen European Solar Challenge to be held at Circuit Zolder in Belgium on 18–20 September (all car photographs except the Swiss one are mine, taken at WSC). Turkish team ITU have made it to Belgium, I am happy to say, so I’ve added them back to the chart.

Agoria, Aachen, Eindhoven, Top Dutch, Twente, and ITU are already at Circuit Zolder (as at the end of the day). SER plan to travel very early on Thursday. Durham is not attending, but in the “solar car family” spirit, will run their personal 24-hour race in the UK. The weather for Zolder is looking good, but with a chance of a tiny bit of rain on Sunday.

Agoria will do a live Q&A on their Facebook on Friday 18:45 (17:45 in London; 12:45 in New York; Sat 02:45 in Sydney), as well as a live start on Saturday 12:55 (11:55 in London; 06:55 in New York; 20:55 in Sydney). Zolder will provide a live tracker.

European Solar Challenge: the details

This page has been duplicated from here, to ensure a permanent record.

Here is a list of the 11 cars (from 5 countries; 9 Challengers and 2 Cruisers, not including Durham) attending the iLumen European Solar Challenge at Circuit Zolder located along the Albert Canal in Belgium (roughly in the centre of the triangle formed by the nearby cities of Leuven, Eindhoven, and Aachen). The race will still go ahead on 18–20 September, although with new coronavirus safety rules (e.g. no spectators). See also this Belgian travel page and this Belgian Covid page.

Pre-race scrutineering begins on the 17th. The 24-hour track race starts at 13:00 on the 19th, with sunset at 19:43 that evening and sunrise at 07:23 the next morning, and with the race continuing until 13:00 on the 20th. The race begins 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).

The regulations are much as for 2018 (6 m2 panels are allowed, as is night-time external charging). Scoring has changed somewhat, with a “dynamic parcour” on the 18th replacing the chicane, and Cruisers being scored on a combination of straight lap counts and a variant of WSC-style energy scoring. In a late change, there will be no team presentations.

My reports on the 2018 event are Report 1 (chicane timing), Report 2 (lap counts), and Report 3 (final results). For this year, follow the official race news feed and also social media at        (click on the icons). Circuit Zolder also has their own social media, which might be of interest:    

BE  Agoria Solar Team / KU Leuven (1) 

Asymmetric challenger (BluePoint) – this Belgian team is now sponsored by Agoria. They won the 2019 World Solar Challenge, and have added a new motor to their winning car. They will be racing at iESC, at Sasol in February 2021, and at WSC in October 2021. Their base is 47 km from Zolder by road, and Agoria uses Zolder as their test track.

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; and won Carrera Solar Atacama 18. Their team number (8) is a long-standing tradition.

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

BE  Agoria Solar Team / KU Leuven (2) 

Asymmetric challenger (Punch 2) – Agoria is also racing their 2017 car at iESC. This is the car that won the Carrera Solar Atacama in 2018, but it now has a new cockpit.

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

DE  Sonnenwagen Aachen (1) 

Monohull challenger (Covestro Sonnenwagen) – this team did very well in the World Solar Challenge, in spite of being blown off the road. The car has since been repaired. There will be a live feed from the car on YouTube during the race. Their base is 73 km from Zolder by road, making them the third-closest team to the track.

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

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

DE  Sonnenwagen Aachen (2) 

Asymmetric challenger (Huawei Sonnenwagen) – Aachen are also racing their 2017 car.

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

NL  Solar Team Twente (1) 

Asymmetric challenger (RED E) – their tiny, beautiful GaAs catamaran RED E was badly damaged by a wind gust at the World Solar Challenge but now has been repaired. It will be raced at Zolder by the next edition of the team, as one of their first actions. Their base is 248 km from Zolder by road. See their iESC team profile here.

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; and came 1st and 2nd at iESC 18. Their team number (21) is a pun and a wish for success in the race (“Twente-One”).

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

NL  Solar Team Twente (2) 

Asymmetric challenger (RED Shift) – Twente is also racing their 2017 car at iESC.

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

NL  Solar Team Eindhoven (1) 

Four-seat cruiser (Stella Era) – their most recent car has many cool features and a range of 1200 km. Their base is 63 km from Zolder by road, making them the second-closest team to the track.

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; and came 7th in the iESC 18 Cruiser class. Their team number (40) is the Eindhoven telephone area code.

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

NL  Solar Team Eindhoven (2) 

Five-seat cruiser (Stella Vie) – Eindhoven is also, it seems, racing their 2017 car, Stella Vie (although she apparently “will remain in the garage” if it rains).

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

NL  Top Dutch Solar Racing 

Monohull challenger (Green Lightning) – I declared this team “best new team” in Australia. Their car has four-wheel steering at low speed and two-wheel steering at high speed. They have been test-driving at the TT circuit in Assen. Their base is about 330 km from Zolder by road.

Previously, Top Dutch came 4th at WSC 19.

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

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

Symmetric challenger (SER-2) – they raced their SER-3 in South Africa and Australia. However, their older SER-2 (with a 6 m2 array) is legal under the regulations, and they are racing that here (with several modifications and improvements). Their base is about 700 km from Zolder by road, making them the second-furthest team from the track. See their iESC team profile 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; and came 8th at iESC 16.

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

TR  Istanbul Technical University (ITU) 

Challenger (B.O.W.) – “B.O.W.” stands for “Bees On Wheels,” from the ITU logo. This is B.O.W.’s last race, and the car has been getting some pre-iESC testing. Their base is about 2,610 km from Zolder by road, making them the furthest team from the track. See their iESC team profile here.

Previously, ITU came 17th at WSC 13; participated at WSC 17; and came 7th at iESC 16.

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

GB  Durham University 

Asymmetric challenger (Ortus) – Durham are the UK’s premier team. They have been upgrading their car after racing in Australia in 2019. They are one of the few teams to report a CdA value (0.107 for Ortus). Breaking news: Durham have withdrawn from iESC2020 and are not attending, but they are running their own synchronised 24-hour race at Ouston Airfield.

Previously, Durham came 27th at WSC 15; participated at WSC 17; and came 14th at WSC 19. Their purple colour derives from the medieval status of Durham as an autonomous county palatine, ruled by a bishop.

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

This page last updated 00:41 on 17 September 2020 AEST.

European Solar Challenge: update #3

Below (click to zoom) is my latest guess at the field of cars for the 24-hour iLumen European Solar Challenge to be held at Circuit Zolder in Belgium on 18–20 September (Durham has, sadly, withdrawn from the event). All car photographs except the Swiss one are mine (taken at WSC). See this page for team details and further iESC information.

In other sad news, we might see some rain during the race. One a more positive note, most teams have been getting in some driver practice.

Below are some pictures from recent social media of five teams (use the picture above to identify teams):

Breaking news: in a sad turn of events, Bochum are out of the Cruiser class, as are Lodz. This leaves only Eindhoven in the Cruiser class. See the current teams list here.

World Solar Challenge 2019 Revisited: some additional charts

Revisiting the World Solar Challenge, the chart below shows distance/speed plots for seven WSC teams (for other teams I was either missing some GPS data, or did not have access to explanatory social media). Distances shown are road distances (not geodesic), while speeds are estimated from distance and time information (because speeds were not included in the GPS data that was kindly supplied to me). As a result of data limitations, the compulsory 30-minute stops at Katherine etc. are shown by sharp speed dips, but not necessarily ones that drop all the way to zero.

Vattenfall (3) had a devastating battery fire; Top Dutch (6) were the best new team, finishing 4th; Agoria (8) won the Challenger class; Twente (21) tragically crashed while in the lead; Sonnenwagen Aachen (70) were one of two teams to come back from a serious crash and still finish; Blue Sky (77) were the 11th and last Challenger team to reach Adelaide on solar power; and Kogakuin (88) were the other team to recover from a major crash.

Night stops in the chart above are marked in red. Photos are from their tweet posted minutes before the fire and from a tweet posted shortly afterwards.

Control stop times for Vattenfall: Katherine: Sunday 12:19:21, Daly Waters: Sunday 15:59:21, Tennant Creek: Monday 11:45:23, Barrow Creek: Monday 14:51:01, Alice Springs: Tuesday 9:30:33, Kulgera: Tuesday 12:51:41, Coober Pedy: Wednesday 8:39:31, Glendambo: Wednesday 12:40:58, Port Augusta: Wednesday 16:44:32.

The chart shows Top Dutch’s multiple stops just out of Tennant Creek with battery problems. Top Dutch finished 4th, and won the WSC Excellence in Engineering Award.

Control stop times for Top Dutch: Katherine: Sunday 12:16:27, Daly Waters: Sunday 15:57:03, Tennant Creek: Monday 12:12:55, Barrow Creek: Monday 15:28:35, Alice Springs: Tuesday 10:39:32, Kulgera: Tuesday 14:41:40, Coober Pedy: Wednesday 12:00:43, Glendambo: Wednesday 15:48:50, Port Augusta: Thursday 10:47:39, Adelaide: Thursday 15:30:00.

Night stops in the chart above are marked in blue. Agoria had a virtually perfect race, winning the Challenger class. Visible in the chart after Coober Pedy is the 80 km/h speed limit imposed by the WSC on Wednesday morning after wind gusts caused multiple crashes.

Control stop times for Agoria: Katherine: Sunday 12:17:04, Daly Waters: Sunday 16:05:54, Tennant Creek: Monday 11:55:56, Barrow Creek: Monday 14:56:40, Alice Springs: Tuesday 9:46:28, Kulgera: Tuesday 13:10:50, Coober Pedy: Wednesday 9:22:36, Glendambo: Wednesday 13:05:06, Port Augusta: Wednesday 16:51:59, Adelaide: Thursday 11:52:42.

Twente’s tragic crash (due to a strong wind gust) occurred at about 2165 km from Darwin, just before Coober Pedy. Photos are from a tweet posted the day before the crash and from a tweet posted shortly afterwards. I was one of the people that signed the car after the crash. Twente won the Promotional Award, for their excellent media.

Control stop times for Twente: Katherine: Sunday 12:08:43, Daly Waters: Sunday 15:32:39, Tennant Creek: Monday 11:33:01, Barrow Creek: Monday 14:31:33, Alice Springs: Tuesday 9:17:16, Kulgera: Tuesday 12:40:40.

Sonnenwagen Aachen stopped for five hours to repair their car on Wednesday, just before Coober Pedy, after the car was blown off the road (their first priority was the driver, of course). There was another stop between Glendambo and Port Augusta, due to a broken shock absorber that had been damaged in the crash (Western Sydney Solar Team kindly helped get them back on the road). Sonnenwagen Aachen finished 6th. They also won the Safety Award and and the Spirit of the Event Award (for not giving up).

Control stop times for Sonnenwagen Aachen: Katherine: Sunday 12:27:34, Daly Waters: Sunday 16:09:06, Tennant Creek: Monday 12:17:32, Barrow Creek: Monday 15:12:27, Alice Springs: Tuesday 9:52:06, Kulgera: Tuesday 13:31:00, Coober Pedy: Wednesday 15:08:20, Glendambo: Thursday 9:35:27, Port Augusta: Thursday 14:49:06, Adelaide: Friday 10:03:48.

Blue Sky (Toronto) had several brief stops of a few minutes (including for electrical issues on Monday), but no particularly dramatic events. They were also slowed somewhat by clouds on Wednesday morning. Blue Sky finished 11th (the last Challenger team to reach Adelaide on solar power).

Control stop times for Blue Sky: Katherine: Sunday 12:49:29, Daly Waters: Monday 8:03:38, Tennant Creek: Monday 14:42:34, Barrow Creek: Tuesday 9:54:44, Alice Springs: Tuesday 14:23:40, Kulgera: Wednesday 11:00:30, Coober Pedy: Thursday 10:34:55, Glendambo: Thursday 15:01:18, Port Augusta: Friday 10:53:25, Adelaide: Friday 15:47:10.

Kogakuin was forced to stop with an overheated motor just after Katherine. They also crashed twice due to strong winds. The second, more serious, crash was due to a mini-tornado or willy-willy just before Glendambo (see their report here), and required overnight repair in town on Wednesday night. Kogakuin finished 5th. They won the CSIRO Technical Innovation Award, for their hydropneumatic suspension. Their dramatic after-race video is here.

Control stop times for Kogakuin: Katherine: Sunday 12:18:43, Daly Waters: Monday 8:03:13, Tennant Creek: Monday 13:16:26, Barrow Creek: Monday 16:15:52, Alice Springs: Tuesday 11:03:53, Kulgera: Tuesday 14:32:15, Coober Pedy: Wednesday 12:04:23, Glendambo: Thursday 9:45:18, Port Aug: Thursday 14:18:47, Adelaide: Friday 9:53:00.

For comparison, here is the distance/time chart I did before. In that analysis, higher means slower, and the arrival times (in Darwin time) can be read out on the right:

Farewell to the World Solar Challenge

This ends my World Solar Challenge 2019 coverage. I will begin covering the American Solar Challenge in a few months. Meanwhile, regular science content resumes.

Summary of WSC additional awards:

  • CSIRO technical innovation award: Kogakuin, for their hydropneumatic suspension.
  • Safety award: Sonnenwagen Aachen, who crashed.
  • Spirit of the Event award: Sonnenwagen Aachen, for not giving up.
  • Promotional award: Solar Team Twente, for their excellent media.
  • Excellence in engineering award: Top Dutch, for their wonderful car.

World Solar Challenge race chart 4

Another race chart (I’m using the same baseline speed I used in 2017). The right vertical axis shows arrival time at “end of timing” in Darwin time (Adelaide time is an hour later).

After repairs, Kogakuin and Aachen have reached Adelaide, followed by Antakari, Nagoya, Eclipse, and Jönköping University. Blue Sky are in Adelaide, but do not seem to have crossed the ceremonial finish line yet.