Pretoria - In an interesting turn of the events, with only a minute in it, Dutch team Nuon has retaken the lead from the Japanese in the third day of the 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge.
Both teams covered an admirable 441.9 kilometres, but with a one-minute late arrival time penalty, Tokai will start second on the grid on on Tuesday. The ever-consistent Swiss team, Solar Energy Racers, will once again start third on the line up at Gariep Dam’s Forever Resorts, having covered 360 kilometres.
South African teams battled with cloudy skies and strong winds, and with more of the same in the forecast, had to make difficult decisions.
“The Bloemfontein to Gariep Dam stage was more about strategy than distance for us – and probably for all the teams,” said Tiaan Oosthuizen, electrical engineer and strategist from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) team. “The weather wasn’t in our favour, and we know that it won’t be for the next few days. We had to plan our energy use very carefully and make sure we’ve got the power we need for the windy hills to come on the way to Port Elizabeth.”
With the South African flag proudly branded across their car, TUT recovered 164.1 kilometres on their first full day back on the road after their earlier setback. On day one, their solar panel took significant damage, and was repaired overnight by the dedicated engineers on their team. High school team Sonke Siyakude completed 40.6 kilometres, and the North-West University team 21.8 kilometres.
As the sole competitor in the sustainability class, City University’s hyper-realistic solar car finally got into the black, clocking 10.9 kilometres. That puts them on 8.6 kilometres in total, after a deficit from heavy time penalties plagued their place on the leaderboard the day before.
Heritage Day traffic also played a major role in the teams’ progress on Tuesday, with the Think Bike safety marshals – two of whom escort each team – being tested to the limit.
Tuesday’s stage from Gariep Dam to Graaff-Reinet will pass through Middelburg, where the Hoërskool Middelburg hosts the control stop area, and schools from the area travel to view the cars as part of the Sasol Solar Challenge’s educational drive. Solar cars will arrive in Graaff-Reinet at Hoër Volk Skool from around 4pm, with all cars in by 5pm. Spectators are welcome at all stops and encouraged to attend all aspects of this family-friendly event.