Pretoria -  The first day of the Sasol Solar Challenge saw world champs flown from the Netherlands complete 645 km, placing first on the line-up  on Sunday.

After setting off from Pretoria on Saturday, top teams clocked just more than 645 km, making use of the loop route in and out of Sasolburg, today’s control stop.

New and experienced teams alike were tested in typical first-day fashion.  

Rival Tokai from Japan equaled their distance, but start sixth in Kroonstad due to heavy time penalties. 

SA’s Tshwane University of Technology placed third despite solar panel damage, completing 493.3 km. Six more teams will compete with them on the road to Bloemfontein on Sunday, via Winburg. 

“After ten years we still find that solar cars need a few hundred kilometres of ‘shake-down’ to really come into their own,” said Winstone Jordaan, event director. “That’s what we’ve seen yesterday– everything from suspension problems to traffic to damaged solar arrays. But, the teams are incredibly dedicated and will be hard at work tonight, ready for day two of this epic eight-day challenge.

Sasol Solar Challenge route and dates: 

22 September: Pretoria – Sasolburg – Kroonstad

23 September: Kroonstad – Winburg – Bloemfontein

24 September: Bloemfontein – Edenburg – Gariep Dam

25 September: Gariep Dam – Middelburg – Graaff-Reinet

26 September: Graaff-Reinet – Jansenville – Port Elizabeth

27 September: Port Elizabeth – Kareedauw – Sedgefield

28 September: Sedgefield – Mossel Bay – Swellendam

29 September: Swellendam – Bredasdorp – Cape Agulhas – Stellenbosch