iLumen European Solar Challenge 2016
The ambitious new Punch Powertrain Solar Team started the preparations for the iLumen European Solar Challenge 2016 with a lot of determination. As the only Belgian team, a top three position was the goal from the start to represent the host country on the podium! The race was nerve-wracking from start to finish. In the end, all the hard work payed off. No major issues and a well-prepared strategy led us to a superb 2nd place!
There is more to this race than a 24-hour race. A speed challenge and a presentation contribute to the final score in this competition. Our entry for this race, Indupol One, is designed to be efficient at 90kph. Therefore, its acceleration power is pretty low, which made us loose some points during the speed challenge. We managed to give an interesting presentation about the bio-based resins we used in Punch One, which made us win lots of points.
We are off!
The sun is shining bright and thereby enables our solar panel to charge up our batteries to the maximum level. All the drivers of the different teams are standing with their back against a wall for a “Le Mans start”, waiting for Minister Tommelein to start the race. Go! They run to their solar cars, get in and start the engines. We are in 4th position after only one lap. From then onwards, we try to keep pitstops to a minimum by saving up our tires. This strategy pays off as we are able to conquer the 3rd place and to keep this position until we need to charge our batteries for the first time. Nighttime falls, it is the first time that we drive in darkness and fully rely on our batteries. We were one of the last teams that had to charge their batteries for a second time. In the morning, after 18 hours of driving, we are still in 3th position.
Battle for second place.
We are closing in on the second position. With only one hour left, we are lagging one minute on the ThyssenKrupp SunRiser of Bochum that is driving in second position. We push our car to the maximum without the assurance that it will pay off. A well-educated guess taught us that the team from Bochum is also driving on the last bit of energy from their battery. Big surprise: they drive into the pitlane with only 8 minutes left to go in the race. Excitement grows within our team. Have they, indeed, ran out of energy just before the end of the race? Their solar car stands idle for 10 seconds and what we were guessing was confirmed. A burst of relief for the entire crew. We did it: we are vice-European Champions for the next two years!
A huge “Thank you” to SolarCar Team Bochum for the exciting race and their sportsmanship, and congratulations to Solar Team Twente with their first position!