Albi Eco Race 2019 begins!


Image credits 1, 2, 3

The Albi Eco Race 2019 has begun. The solar-car segment (“Niveau 3”) includes Bochum University of Applied Sciences with their legendary 2011 car, SolarWorld GT (top left), as well as their sexy 2015 car, the thyssenkrupp SunRiser (top right; it will make a comeback at WSC later this year) and their 2017 car, the thyssenkrupp blue.cruiser (not shown). The French (or rather, Breton) team Eco Solar Breizh is fielding their challenger Heol and their new urban mini-Cruiser hx2 (bottom). I understand that the Lycée Jehan de Beauce (Project 28) is also participating, along with the fantastic Ardingly Solar team from the UK (who will take their Cruiser to WSC as well).

The actual solar-car race is from 9:00 to 16:30 on Saturday (French time), if I am understanding the timetable correctly. There are active Twitter feeds from Ardingly, Bochum, Eco Solar Breizh, and of course the race itself.

Sadly, it looks like rain.


Image credits 1, 2, 3

Edit: it seems that the SolarWorld GT suffered some damage, which means that only two Bochum cars are competing. Also, hx2 is not competing in the solar-car segment. Below are the speeds from the qualifiers.

Further edit: The thyssenkrupp blue.cruiser won the event on points. The thyssenkrupp SunRiser came second, with 119 laps in 8 hours, i.e. an average of about 53 km/h. Heol from Eco Solar Breizh came third.


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WSC Guest Post: An English View #2

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.


14 April 2015

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.


The team

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.


The finished vehicle

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.


World Solar Challenge: Team 43

43  Ardingly College (Ardingly Solar Car)

Ardingly College is an independent co-educational boarding and day school located in Ardingly, West Sussex (photo above by Dave Spicer). They appear to have fielded the first European school team in the WSC, and their solar car (below) is entered in the Cruiser class. The Cambridge University team seem to have provided some technical advice during development, and DHL have sponsored transport of the car to Australia. Construction appears to be slow however.

The team’ newly set up YouTube channel includes this video of construction in progress. Good luck, team 43!

Update: Construction is complete; see this video:

Update: And this photograph:

Update: They also have a new WordPress blog.

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see: