Sasol Race Report #7

Here are the results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, as at day 7 out of 8 (click to zoom). The photo is from here (taken on day 6). The big news is the penalty of 117.4 km imposed on Nuon when a sick team member dropped their bag in the wrong van. The kilometres subtracted by the penalty are marked with light orange in the chart above, and move Nuon down to 2nd place. In my view, it reflects poorly on Tokai that they made a formal complaint about this incident, and it reflects poorly on the Sasol Solar Challenge that they imposed such a large penalty.

Nuon has some excellent videos about the race (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, day 6, and day 7.


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Sasol Race Report #6

Here are the results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, as at day 6 out of 8 (click to zoom). Only the Challenger class is shown. The optional daily “loops” are marked, the black spots indicate time penalties, and the photo is from here (taken by Tokai on day 4). I have calculated average speeds for the cars (hopefully correctly), and the short dashed lines show distances travelled in the 2016 event (which was a faster race, because the cars had larger solar panels).

On Wednesday, Nuon tried to do one more loop than Tokai, but decided halfway through the day that they couldn’t manage it, and slowed down again. On Thursday, they did manage it, and are now 22.7 km ahead of Tokai.

Despite some troubles on Wednesday (a strong wind gust ripped the array off the car, requiring some repairs), the Swiss team (Solar Energy Racers) is hanging on to 3rd place.

Nuon has some excellent videos about the race (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, and day 6. See also the online tracker and my teams list and information page, which includes links to team social media.


Sasol Race Report #5

Here are the results for the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, as at day 5 out of 8. Only the Challenger class is shown. The optional daily “loops” are marked, the black spot indicates a time penalty, and the photo is from here (taken on day 4). I have calculated average speeds for the cars (hopefully adjusting correctly for time spent in control stops and loop stops).

Tokai still holds the lead, Central University of Technology have finally gotten their car to pass scrutineering, and three cars are in a battle for 3rd place.

Nuon has some excellent videos about the race (Dutch with English subtitles) for day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, and day 5. See also the online tracker and my teams list and information page, which includes links to team social media.


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:


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