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Nine cars take on Sasol solar race today

Small towns like Trompsburg will witness solar-powered cars moving through their streets on an eight-day challenge

Nine solar car teams are competing in the 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge today, after completing a “scrutineering process” at Red Star Raceway this week.

The scrutineering process was conducted in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and with the help of 12 volunteers from across the world. Solar cars were lined up at the scrutineering area in the early hours of Sunday, taking turns to each station. Three solar cars completed the first phase of scrutineering on day one, and on Tuesday all teams were given the green light to join the start-line today (9 September).

The teams will travel in five provinces across South Africa from 9 until 16 September, demonstrating the power of the sun and showcasing their engineering skills in 18 towns.

“Scrutineering is the most important part of the Sasol Solar Challenge, and the process is conducted in order to ensure that all competitive solar cars meet the requirements and all sporting regulations of the event to assure safety of the drivers as well as the spectators along the route,” says Robert Walker, director of the Sasol Solar Challenge. “It’s great that all teams were successful and passed all the tests. We now look forward to travelling with them on the road during the eight-day challenge.”

The scrutineering process is divided into two categories; static scrutineering, which includes testing of mechanical, electrical and energy storage systems, these include testing of signage, body and sizing, driver operations, lights and vision, battery and safety. The other category is dynamic scrutineering, which tests the speed and stability of the solar cars.

CSIR researcher Tshiamo Segakweng says: “The CSIR team was involved in scrutineering the safety of the solar cars including electrical and battery safety tests. Our team included experts in battery, robotics and solar energy and their expertise was essential during the testing process. The teams we encountered during this process were talented and had various backgrounds locally and internationally. Overall, the scrutineering process was fun and exciting because we had the opportunity to apply our knowledge and provided technical advice on safety requirements on different Solar Cars.”

Chief scrutineer Louis Smuts says: “The process was a great experience and a learning curve for everyone who was part of the scrutineering team. It was impressive to see what these teams can do by themselves, especially the new teams who will be competing for the first time in solar challenge. The cutting-edge technologies that they have developed shows how dedicated and passionate they are in their solar car projects. It’s great that they have all managed to do scrutineering and pass all the tests in each station.”

The 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge will incorporate special stages, which includes half and full blind stages, where information relating to the route will be withheld until the night before teams take on the road, forcing them to strategise last minute.

The 2022 route from Johannesburg to Cape Town will include five provinces and 18 towns. Communities in these provinces will witness solar-powered cars moving through their streets on the eight-day long challenge for the first time in almost four years. The challenge has a new route with new towns, roads, and communities, to increase the impact which the event has on the communities which it passes through. New towns include Brakpan, Trompsburg, Willowmore, Kirkwood, Jeffreys Bay, Riversdale and Caledon.

Spectators are welcome at all stops, and more information on the route and the teams can be found at: 

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