Sasol Race Report #4

Here are the results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, as at day 4 out of 8. Only the Challenger class is shown (not the car from Hong Kong, which is driving non-competitively). The daily “loops” are marked, and the photo is from here. See also the online tracker and my teams list and information page, which includes links to team social media.

Nuon had some minor technical problems today, allowing Tokai to take the lead. Nuon has some excellent videos about the race (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4.

I’m beginning to doubt that Central University of Technology (CUT) or Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) will ever get their cars working; but they clearly have not yet given up. In hindsight, universities offered the chance to start new teams should have been approached much earlier. However, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has done a fantastic repair job after the storm damage on day 1. I hope that they will be able to make it to Australia next year.

Weather forecasts for the rest of the race route are:


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Sasol Race Report #3

Here are the results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, as at day 3 out of 8. The big storm at the end of day 1 is marked. Only the Challenger class is shown (not the car from Hong Kong, which is driving non-competitively). Black spots mark time penalties, and the photo is from here. See also my teams list and information page, which includes links to team social media.

In the Sasol Solar Challenge, teams drive a fixed route each day, with the option of detouring around a “loop” 0, 1, 2, 3, … times. These “loops” are highlighted in the chart above. For example, on day 1, Nuon and Tokai both drove the fixed route as well as driving the 76.1 km loop five times (however, these “loops” actually happen somewhere in the middle of the day’s route, not at the end).

These “loops” mean that strategy essentially becomes a version of the difficult knapsack problem. Teams must maximise the sum of the lengths of the chosen loops, subject to time and energy constraints. This is further complicated by the uncertainty of future energy input (will it be cloudy in 4 days time?) and the psychological cat-and-mouse between the leaders (something which Nuon generally excels at). It will be interesting to see how Nuon and Tokai play the strategy game over the next 5 days.

Nuon has excellent videos about the race (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1, day 2, and day 3.

Update: NWU apparently had battery problems. CPUT is still hoping to fix their car so that they can get it off the trailer and onto the road. Days 4 and 7 will see some shorter loops, so some distance might open up between Nuon and Tokai then. Weather forecasts for the race route are:

  • Tuesday Sept 25 – Windy
  • Wednesday Sept 26 – Sunny
  • Thursday Sept 27 – Sunny
  • Friday Sept 28 – Rain
  • Saturday Sept 29 – Mostly cloudy

Sasol Race Report #2

Here are the results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, as at day 2 out of 8. The storm at the end of day 1 (which blew tents away and damaged TUT’s car) is marked. Only the Challenger class is shown, and black spots mark time penalties. See also my teams list and information page.

Nuon has vlogs (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1 (with the storm) and day 2.


Quick solar racing update #2

Another quick solar car racing update. Teams have been arriving for the iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC) in Belgium, and my iESC teams list and information page has been updated with latest news.

Scrutineering and qualification for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa is complete (see my Sasol teams list and information page). Online tracking will be here. The starting grid for this race is:

  1. Tokai
  2. NWU
  3. Nuon
  4. TBA
  5. TBA
  6. TBA
  7. TBA
  8. TBA
  9. TBA

Quick solar racing update

Just a quick solar car racing update. Scrutineering for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa starts in two days. I have updated my Sasol teams list with current status and three new pictures.

Scrutineering for the iLumen European Solar Challenge starts in four days. I will update my iESC teams list later.


Solar Car World Rankings


Nuon at WSC 17 (photo: Anthony Dekker)

Here is my personal world ranking of the top twenty Challenger-class solar cars. It was produced entirely algorithmically by using linear regression on historical data to build mappings between WSC rankings and those of other races, and then applying those mappings to the results of four recent events (SASOL 16, ESC 16, WSC 17, and ASC 18). There is as yet insufficient data to rate Cruiser-class teams (apart from the actual WSC 17 results: 1 Eindhoven, 2 Bochum, 3 Arrow).

Rank Team SASOL16 ESC16 WSC17 ASC18
1 NL  Nuon Solar Team 1 1
2 US  University of Michigan 2 2
3 NL  Solar Team Twente 1 5
4 BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 2 3
5 JP  Tokai University 2 4
6 AU  Western Sydney Solar Team 6 1
7 JP  Kogakuin University 7
8 HU  Kecskemét College GAMF (Megalux) 3
9 SE  JU Solar Team 8
10 US  Stanford Solar Car Project 9
11 CL  Antakari Solar Team 10
12 ZA  North West University 4 P
13 CA  University of Toronto (Blue Sky) 11
14 CA  ETS Quebec (Eclipse) 3
15 JP  Nagoya Institute of Technology 12
16 TR  Istanbul Technical University (ITU) 7 P
17 CA  Poly Montreal (Esteban) 4
18 CH  Solar Energy Racers 8
19 US  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 5
20 TR  Dokuz Eylül University (Solaris) 9

Note that, for ESC 16, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place cars were all Bochum Cruisers and are therefore not listed here, while 6th was Onda Solare, which is now also a Cruiser team. The letter P marks cars that participated in WSC 17, but did not finish, and thus were not ranked. It must also be said that Eclipse, Esteban, and MIT should probably be ranked higher than they are here – the algorithm is not taking into account the dramatic improvement in ASC teams this year.


Michigan at WSC 17 (photo: Anthony Dekker)


Solar Car Racing Status Check #2


Tokai, who came 4th at WSC 2017, will race against Nuon at SASOL this year (photo: Anthony Dekker)

In further solar car racing news, preparations are continuing for the SASOL Solar Challenge in South Africa (September 22 to 30). Defending champions Nuon and Japanese team Tokai will attend this event, along with local teams, such as North-West University.


The Belgian car, Punch 2, which came 3rd at WSC 2017, will be challenging Twente at iESC this year (photo: Anthony Dekker)

Thirteen teams have registered so far for the 24 hour iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC) in Belgium (September 19 to 23), and Twente will be defending their title there. I am maintaining an information page and teams list for this race. See also the official iESC social media at  


Western Sydney’s car, Unlimited 2.0, which came 6th at WSC 2017, will race at ASC this year (photo: Anthony Dekker)

Thirty-two teams have registered for the American Solar Challenge (ASC) in July. Scrutineering for this race begins on July 6, track racing on July 10, and the road race runs from July 14 to July 22. I am maintaining a detailed information page and teams list for this race too.


Missouri’s new car, Independence, was unveiled on 18 April (picture credit)

Five teams are attending with cars that raced at WSC 2017 (including one Australian team), although these cars will require adjustment to satisfy ASC rules. Seven other teams had existing cars (including one Russian team). The remaining teams have been building new cars.


Poly Montreal’s new car, Esteban 9, was unveiled on 23 April (picture credit)

Recently unveiled cars for the ASC include Missouri S&T (18 April), Poly Montreal / Esteban (23 April), and Georgia Tech (24 April). There are 17 cars still to be unveiled.


Georgia Tech’s new car, SR-2, was unveiled on 24 April (picture credit)