June 21 in Solar Cars

June 21 was an eventful day in solar-car racing. The Belgian team revealed their zippy new car:

Nuon Solar Team set a world record, clocking up 882 km in a 12-hour track session.

Eindhoven have also unveiled their new car, and it’s gorgeous! It lacks the “tunnel” of their previous vehicle, and this allows them to seat a family of five:


More World Solar Challenge progress

The open road is calling teams for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, and JU Solar Team (battery box ready for shipping), Lodz Solar Team (battery box), Nuon Solar Team (world record attempt), Solar Team BE (unveiling Punch 2), and Singapore (dashboard design) are hearing that call.

In other news, Solar Team GB have pulled out of the race, and Eindhoven are due to unveil their car in a few hours.


Which is the best World Solar Challenge team?

Recently, I saw that someone had asked on the Internet which the best team in the World Solar Challenge was.

For the WSC Challenger class, this is not a difficult question. Nuon Solar Team owns the race, and has won six times out of eight this century (although “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”). The more interesting question is: who is second? There are four main contenders for that honour.

A few years ago, I would have placed Tokai University second. They won the race in 2009 and 2011. However, unless they can reverse the trend, their star seems to be falling.

Michigan are very definitely the best US team. However, they have pointed out themselves that they suffer “the curse of third,” and thus far lack the je ne sais quoi that it takes to win (of course, when they find it, Nuon had better watch out).

The star of Solar Team Twente is rising. They worked their way up to second place in 2015. They could win this year.

Finally, the Belgian team from KU Leuven is also moving up, and I expect them to do very well this year also.

In the WSC Cruiser class, “best” is a fuzzier concept. However, Eindhoven, Bochum, and UNSW/Sunswift have all done consistently well, with Eindhoven winning the last two races.


More World Solar Challenge preparations

Across the world, solar car teams continue to prepare for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, turning dreams into functioning vehicles (Instagram memories from Michigan, Belgium, Jönköping, Nuon, Lodz, and me). Meanwhile, the road from Darwin to Adelaide is waiting.

Who’s your local team?


World Solar Challenge preparations continue

Across the world, solar car teams are preparing for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, turning dreams into functioning vehicles (Instagram memories from Twente, Aachen, Belgium, Stanford, Belgium again, and USC). Who’s your local team?


European Solar Challenge 2016 Results


Circuit Zolder seen from above (imagery: Landsat, car photo: Anthony Dekker)

The European Solar Challenge at Circuit Zolder this year had an interesting format, with a 24 hour endurance track race, a competition for the fastest lap time, a chicane challenge, and a presentation about the car. Requiring a balance between speed, cornering ability, and battery capacity, the track race seemed to provide a fair competition for both Cruiser-class and Challenger-class cars.

Twente won the track race, with 278 laps (ahead of the Tesla with 273 laps), followed by Punch Powertrain from Leuven (262) and the PowerCore Suncruiser from Bochum (258). The Thyssenkrupp Sunriser from Bochum ran the fastest lap (3:03.063), followed by their Solarworld GT (3:09.990) and the Swiss Solar Energy Racers (3:19.891). The chicane challenge was won by the Solarworld GT, and the presentation by Twente.

The chart below shows the updated and official team points. The bars labelled “Total” on the left are the sum of all the other bars. Teams with zero points are not shown. Congratulations to all the teams, especially Twente, who won overall, Punch Powertrain, who came second, and the Thyssenkrupp Sunriser, which came third!

European Solar Challenge 2016 Update

Below, once again, are the 12 solar car teams that will be competing in the European Solar Challenge this year, with revised links to their websites and social media. The ESC will be held at Circuit Zolder in Belgium from September 23 to 25 this year. It will be a 24 hour endurance track race, competing against a (non-solar) Tesla Model S (however, teams may charge their car from mains power up to two times, if they stop for an hour to do so). About half the points for the ESC will come from the number of laps of the track completed. Other points will come from the fastest lap time, a timed chicane challenge on the 23rd, and a presentation about the car. Follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.


Circuit Zolder seen from above (imagery: Landsat, car photo: Anthony Dekker)

The 24 hour track race starts at 13:00 on the 24th, and sunset will be at 19:32 that evening. The sun will rise again at 07:30 the next morning, and the race will continue until 13:00 on the 25th. Long-range weather forecasting suggested that the weather might be cloudy that weekend, but a more up-to-date forecast suggests sun (see diagram below). See also this nearby weathercam (about 8.5 km away, and facing towards the racetrack).


Advance weather forecast for the 24 hour track race

DE  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

This team came 3rd in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. Bochum are fielding three teams at ESC (racing the Solarworld GT, which drove around the world in 2011/12; the PowerCore SunCruiser from WSC 2013; and the beautiful ThyssenKrupp SunRiser from WSC 2015).

  

GB  Cambridge University 

This team came 22nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. Their car has an interesting teardrop design.

TR  Dokuz Eylül University / Solaris 

This team came 25th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

CO  EAFIT / Cambria 

This is a new team. They have posted a nice team overview video.

IT  Futuro Solare 

This appears to be a relatively new team. Read more about them here. Their car is called Archimede in honour of the famous mathematician of that name, who was a native of Syracuse, the team’s home town.

TR  Istanbul Technical University 

This team came 17th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013. They will be racing a rebuilt version of one of their old Challenger class cars, not the more recent Cruiser shown below.

IT  Onda Solare 

This team came 10th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 10th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They came 2nd in the Evolución class at the 2016 Carrera Solar Atacama.

BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 

This team came 3rd in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, and 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They will be racing Indupol One, their entry from WSC 2013.

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

This team came 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 11th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. They also participated in this year’s American Solar Challenge. They will be racing their SER-1 car, which was their entry in the 2011 WSC.

NL  Solar Team Twente 

This team came 2nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. Their Red One is the fastest entry in terms of raw speed. Whether that is enough to win the challenge remains to be seen.

Here is the scoring matrix for the event:

  Chicane Fastest Lap 24-hour Race Presentation
1st 20 20 50 10
2nd 15 15 40 8
3rd 10 10 30 6
4th 5 5 20 4
5th 0 0 10 2

This post last updated 11:29 on 23 September 2016 AEST