Man versus Machine on the Memorial van Damme
The stadium goes silent. On your marks, set, … and with a gunshot they’re off for an unique competition between man and machine. The brave Kenyan Joachim Kipkoech starts his race against the Belgian solar car with determination. His lead grows to a stunning 200 meter, in a race that’s only 600 meters long. Will the solar car be able to catch up on him in front of 46.000 people?
The road to the Memorial
In the first month in which we started working on the new solar car, there were a lot of good ideas about creative marketing. Man versus machine on the Memorial was one of them. First we tried contacting the organization through mutual contacts. However, reaching the right person turned out to be quite difficult. So we tried out different ways to get in touch with Wilfried Meert, the man behind the Memorial van Damme. Sending an email to the general email address was one of the things we did. I guess nobody really expected this to work, but a couple days later we received a phone call from mister Meert himself. He was as excited as we were and together we started working on this special act.
The tension builds up as we arrive on the Memorial
After arriving at the Memorial, we placed our solar car at the entrance of tribune one. By doing this, all the spectators could have a glance on our solar car. It received a lot of attention and it was clear that people looked forward to the challenge between man and machine. We moved the solar car to the athletics track right before the Memorial started and from that point onwards, we waited for our moment of glory. The atmosphere was amazing and reached a high when Nafissatou Thiam made her entrance with her recently earned Olympic gold medal. For us, it functioned as a sign. We could go on the track to prepare the solar car.
Man versus machine
Kipkoech and the solar car stand side by side. The referee starts the race and Kipkoech takes by far the best start. After about 15 seconds, the solar car slowly gets up to speed. The crow get on their feet as they see the solar car speeding up. It’s going good. The solar car is gaining ground on Kipkoech. Only 100 meters left and Bert Longin finally has the athlete in his sight. The crowd goes wild. They cheer the Belgian solar car forward while it passes the athlete and finishes 3 seconds before the athlete.
Euphoria in the stadium
Shortly after the race, the entire Punch Powertrain solar team sits together to watch the rest of the Memorial. Proud of what they’ve achieved, their heads quickly go back to the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia in Oktober 2017. They aim for gold in this officious world championship for solar cars.