The 24-hour endurance race is the central element of the European Solar Challenge, which is how most of the total points are calculated for placement. The remaining points are awarded based on individual challenges before and during the race, such as fastest lap, most consistent lap time and vehicle presentation.
The race is held every two years at the Circuit Zolder and is based on the 24-hour race at Le Mans. Official start of the race can be found on the official website (iLumen European Solar Challenge). The goal for the European teams is to get the best out of their cars after the mass start and to drive as efficiently as possible.
During the day it is possible to get the energy needed for the race through the solar cells. However, the bigger challenge starts after sunset. From then on, the team has to rely on the 5 kWh battery. If the capacity of the battery cannot get the car through the night, there is the possibility to recharge it in the pitlane. When the solar car reaches the finish line 24h later after the long night, it will have covered about 1000 kilometers.
But apart from energy efficiency, keeping to the optimum lane and the perfect driving strategy, one thing is important here again above all else: teamwork!
Team Sonnenwagen Aachen is competing in the race against renowned universities from all over the world. As examples Cambridge, TU Delft, Stanford University and MIT are listed.
During the race it is allowed to charge the battery twice to drive through the night. This requires detailed planning and design of the vehicles. An intelligent driving strategy determines the optimal speed during the race.
It is the only 24-hour race for solar cars in the world. It takes place every two years.