European Solar Challenge 2016

European Solar Challenge 2016

Last weekend the European Solar Challenge (ESC) took place in Zolder, Belgium A 24-hour Race for solar powered cars and we were there – close to the action. Invited by Gerrit from team Bochum we did not want to miss out on this opportunity. The Bochum team provided, besides three participating teams, also volunteers, such as the said Gerrit,

Already the day before the race started we got to Belgium  to meet team Bochum. First the people at the campground, then the people who had already made themselves at home in the pit lane. They even had a sofa and 3 armchairs there. We were impressed.

The starting field

After a brief exchange we went to inspect the rest of the starting field.
13 different teams from the countries Turkey (2 vehicles), Italy (2 vehicles), Belgium, Switzerland, Germany (3 cars of the cruiser class), Netherlands, England, Colombia and two Teslas attended the European Solar Challenge. But as many diverse nations were represented, as strong was the cohesion among them. For us it was incredibly great to see what is possible. When a project like ours starts, the beginning seems like an unconquerable mountain. And then you see other teams. And you know that they went through exactly the same and have managed it. That is encouraging and you know that you want to and will be in the pit lane with your own car and your own furniture. And that it is worth all the trouble and hard work you will have to go through.

Gradually came the hunger … As experienced campers we had everything for a good BBQ. Apart from the coal. And the BBQ.

Again, you could fully rely on the Team from Bochum, who ceded the barbecue and coal to us for use without any resistance and even sponged two jars of mustard. Thank you very much!
Later, we joined them at the bonfire. Together we pondered over the era of E-mobility.

The start

On Saturday the race was to start at 1 pm. In the morning, our yet-passively participating team “Sonnenwagen” was reinforced by the arrival of Christian, Hendrik and breakfast. A welcome addition. We visited the pits again, but hadn’t a lot of time to chat with the other teams. Before the race would start they all were busy doing the final checks on their cars.
And then finally: The cars were on the track, the start signal sounded and the drivers sprinted to the vehicle, climbed in, in order to break away as soon as possible from the field.
Thrilled we watched the race for some time and were amazed at the lap times.

The spirit of the European Solar Challenge

The weather couldn’t have been better – blue sky and bright sunshine – and it would stay like that until the end of the ceremony. It was an incredibly good atmosphere. During the race, we had the opportunity to speak with the team from Colombia. Cesar, the team leader of the team “Cambria”, told us that they had built their solar car in just 86 days. We learned that they had worked almost full three months in 24 hour shifts (2x12h), to ensure their start at the European Solar Challenge. Finally, Cesar gave us a Beatbox-performance, a talent he had discovered years ago. Although his car started 6 hours too late, and survived only 3 rounds, this perseverance and this willpower inspired enormous.

At the end of the first day’s racing, it still looked as if Bochum would bring the victory home. But the next morning Twente was already far ahead of the field. Only the Teslas were on the Dutch team’s heels. But due to the fact that they were not solar powered, they participated out of ranking.

Although Bochum was able to catch up a few more rounds, Twente kept its leading position right up until the end.

Ceremony and winners

The highlights were probably the finishing of the race, which were received by Mexican waves by all teams and the victory lap of the solar cars with their national flags. The end of this parade was formed by the party car of the Colombians.

Likewise emotional was the speech of the organizer and the presentation of the honorary prize to the tireless team “Cambria” from Columbia. Worthy, as we see it. This award is the symbolization of the Spirits of the European Solar Challenge. Despite the bitter disappointment, the South Americans must have experienced by the inability to drive their car, they were not showing it. Instead, they rejoiced with the other teams and supported them. We hope to see them in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge again. We suggested that they could enhance their car for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, but only Cesar replied, they would prefer to build two or three new cars by then. Winner of the heart was “Cambria” in our opinion, in any case.

We are pleased that we could experience the ESC. Thank you very much, team Bochum, and especially Gerrit for the invitation and for the good community!