Open Track Day and Dynamic Parcour
The last day before the start of the 24-hour race on the Circuit Zolder was demanding for all departments. After the electrical engineering and chassis departments had been working on the cars until the morning, both rolled out onto the track at nine o’clock in the morning for testing. In the following hours, the drivers had time to adjust to the track and develop a feeling for the curves, chicanes, ups and downs of the track.
Just as important as getting a feeling for the track is getting used to the radio protocol with the pit as well as the communication with the race control via separate media. The protocol developed by our driving strategy department ensures that there are no misunderstandings between the drivers and the team in the pits during the race, so that driver changes, battery charging and of course the driving itself run smoothly and according to plan.
After the first test session, the first evaluated part of the race – the Dynamic Parcour – was due at 1 p.m. For this, the track was cleared and some special driving tasks were set up with pylons at different places. The goal for all drivers was to master these correctly and to complete the lap as quickly as possible. Due to the particularly strong competitors this year, everyone was really excited when Sonnenwagen 1 received the signal to start. Since our first car of 2017 is a rather wide catamaran, the tight curves and gates were a special challenge for the driver.
Especially after the Belgian team had turned 180° at one of the obstacles. But the selected driver safely completed the lap with a good time of 3:56:144. The Covestro Sonnenwagen, which started as the fourth of a total of 10 Challenger solar cars, beat all previously achieved lap times by almost 15 seconds and was thus at the top of the ranking for a long time. Only a solar racing car from the Dutch Solar Team Twente and TopDutch Solar Racing were able to beat this time, so that the Covestro solar car finished third.
Before the second and final test phase from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. the drivers had the opportunity to go around the track by bike or on foot in order to discuss once again particularly difficult parts and to exchange experiences.
While the pilots did their laps around the track and the driving strategy made final adjustments to the plan for tomorrow’s race day, the remaining team members who had to stay in Aachen due to exams gradually arrived in Zolder. That means there is nothing standing in the way of a successful and exciting race over the next two days and we are all looking forward to the start tomorrow at 1 p.m. in old school Le Mans fashion.