Three weeks ago, the team got back from the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge, which took place across the country, and spanned a distance of 5000 km (see the route here). Our vehicle, Ilanga I.I, participated in the Olympia Class and we ended up placing second in our class.
Since then, we’ve attended a few sponsor events in addition to being hard at work optimising the current car. This post contains a summary of the race, as well as a few choice photos. We’ll post the rest of the photos on Facebook.
We’d like to thank our support crew (which consisted of staff from UJ, Intellilab and the Resolution Circle) who made sure that our camp site looked amazing every night and ensured that we were well-fed and looked after.
Additionally, we’d like to thank our awesome sponsors for their support and involvement throughout our endeavour - without them, this project would not be possible!
The static and dynamic scrutineering took place on the 15th and 16th of September respectively. The purpose of this was to ensure that all vehicles met the required regulations in terms of the competition and safety. Apart from a minor issue with the lighting (which was fixed on the spot), Ilanga I.I met all the requirements.
On the track at Zwartkops Raceway for the Dynamic Scrutineering
Day 1 – Pretoria to Vryburg
The race kicked off at the CSIR in Pretoria at 08:00 amongst a flurry of spectators, teams and media. Teams left the CSIR one-by-one, accompanied by all of their support vehicles. The international teams – Tokai University and Kenjiro Shinozuka were the first to leave.
At the Starting Line at the CSIR
About an hour after leaving, we hit a particularly bumpy patch of road which caused a number of vibration-induced issues. We pulled over a bit to sort them out, and implement a few preventative measures.
Day 2 – Vryburg to Upington
The next morning, we decided to make a few modifications to the car to address the vibration issues we were having. This also provided our batteries with a chance to charge before heading out. We arrived in Upington shortly before 18:00.
Morning repairs outside of Vryburg
Arriving in Upington
Pieter, Warren and Kyle
Day 3 – Upington to Springbok
While waiting for the day’s leg to start, we managed to get a decent charge. The panels were angled towards the sun to achieve maximum irradiance. Later that day, we stopped outside of Pofadder for a top-up charge.
Morning Charge in Upington
Midday Charge outside of Pofadder
Day 4 – Springbok to Cape Town
On the way to Cape Town, we decided to push the car a bit, and we were able to hit 110 km/h quite easily. That night, we attended a dinner with the other teams and the race organisers.
Quick stop after hitting 110 km/h
Dinner and Drinks at the Waterfront
Day 5 – Show day at Canal Walk
After a tiring first few days, the teams had a rest day on Saturday. All cars were on display on the roof of Canal Walk which generated a fair amount of local interest. We also made the front page of Die Burger that day.
Ilanga I.I on Display at Canal Walk
Die Burger - 22 September 2012
Day 6 – Cape Town to Oudtshoorn
The trip to Oudtshoorn was a cloudy one which meant we ended up using more of our batteries than we were hoping to. The mountainous terrain and driving in the rain didn’t help us much either.
Day 7 – Oudtshoorn to East London
This was the longest leg of the entire challenge – we needed to cover 675 km. Unfortunately, this meant that we needed to trailer the car for most of the day.
On the Trailer
Day 8 – East London to Bloemfontein
This leg wasn’t much shorter than the previous one, with a required distance of 600 km for the day. The endless road works also lengthened our travelling time considerably.
Even Tokai experienced delays due to the Stop-and-Go Controls
On the road to Aliwal North
Day 9 – Bloemfontein to Pietermaritzburg
Before arriving in Pietermaritzburg, we had to make it down Van Reenen’s Pass; a daunting thought when considering the twisting roads and serious downhills.
Van Reenen's Pass
Catching some late afternoon sun
Day 10 – Pietermaritzburg to Secunda
We faced a number of uphills after leaving Pietermaritzburg, so we decided to trailer for the first part of the day. That evening, all cars were on display at Graceland Casino in Secunda.
Leaving the Control Stop in Vryheid
On Display at Graceland Casino
Day 11 – Secunda to Pretoria
By the last day, the team was anxious to get home. Luckily, we only had to cover 250 km to get back to Pretoria, and we received a warm welcome after arriving at the CSIR.
Arriving at the CSIR
The Team after arrival