Dutch team wins Solar Challenge in South Africa

Holland’s Nuon Solar Team from TU Delft won the SASOL Solar Challenge for the second time at the weekend. The upgraded Nuna8s covered a record-breaking 4517 kilometers from Pretoria to Cape Town in eight days crossing South African  mountains and driving in five-lane traffic. This is the longest distance ever driven in a solar car race. The goal was to cover as much ground as possible.  

Nuon Solar Challenge car Nuna8s

Photo Hans-Peter van Velthoven

Crash course

Even before the race began the team faced major setbacks. Just one week ahead of the start the Dutch entry crashed on the test course. Repairs took a whole week to complete, but then the solar vehicle crashed into a wall on day two, damaging the front of the car. Hard winds also proved to be a serious obstacle.

Team spirit

And to top it all, the students got pulled over by police on the motorway who feared they may distract other drivers. Only after extensive explanations were they allowed to continue driving. Luckily team spirit pulled the nine TU Delft students from various disciplines through to the finish just 173 kilometres ahead of their closest rival, the Japanese team from Tokal University – never before had the finish been so close.

World's best solar panel

The Nuon Solar Team has won many competitions including world titles, but the competition is catching up with its technology. Changing a wheel fast and having the best solar panel in the world really made the difference. Next year the team from Delft Technical University will defend its title.