Sun, batteries, petrol and hydrogen started an epic 4 000km race and ten days later on Sunday, the second Solar Challenge Race came to Pretoria with numerous records by vehicles powered by alternative energy having been broken.
Described as the one of the world's toughest alternative energy races, the 10-day SA Solar Challenge saw Japan's Tokai University with their 162kg solar powered car set a new record for the event when it travelled 4 061 km purely on solar energy.
Race Director Winstone Jordaan said the Japanese also set the South African record for the longest distance travelled in one day on solar energy at 565,3 kilometres.
The race also saw a bunch of Pretoria enthusiasts set the solar powered record for a South African team by travelling 1845,4km for the event. They also went on to set the solar record for the distance travelled a South African team in one at 125km. The University of Johannesburg also set a new alternative energy record by travelling 1,845.4km in one event in their vehicle which was powered by a combination of petrol and hydrogen.
There are two categories which teams can enter – the Challenge Class and the Adventure category. The former has very strict criteria and covers all solar-powered vehicles. Adventure class is open to all road vehicles using alternative fuel technologies, not only solar power.
Jordaan said he would like to see the 2012 event attract more entrants, especially from other South African universities researching alternative energy sources.
The vehicles travelled to Cape Town, stopping in Bloemfontein and Beaufort West during stage one. Stage two saw the teams travel from Stellenbosch to Pretoria, via George, Grahamstown, Kokstad, Richards Bay and Badplaas back to Pretoria. - Sapa