The 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge got underway on Saturday, September 22, when nine solar-powered experimental cars departed from the Sun Star Plaza, Menlyn Maine, Pretoria, on a 4 500-km solar-powered journey to Stellenbosch.

“This event represents ingenuity, efficiency, hard work and cutting-edge technology. It’s everything we need in the city of Tshwane, and we’re proud to once again host the start of the Sasol Solar Challenge,” said Tshwane Mayor, Solly Msimanga, as he waved the cars off.

Now in its sixth running, the Sasol Solar Challenge sees solar-powered cars from across the world compete to cover the biggest distance across public roads. Five South African teams are taking on solar cars from Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The current record, held by Dutch team Nuon, was set in 2016 at 4 716 km.

“This is an incredibly challenging event, and we commend all the competitors who have spent months building solar cars and planning for the tough route through South Africa,” said Winstone Jordaan, Sasol Solar Challenge founder and director.

So far, teams Nuon (the Netherlands) and Tokai (Japan) have been neck and neck for the first three days. Tshwane University of Technology is currently ranked third, the Swiss Solar Energy Racers fourth, followed by North-West University in fifth position.

Sixth on the line is the City University of Hong Kong, followed by the only high-school team, Sonke Siyakude. Central University and Cape Peninsula University of Technology currently bring up the rear.

“Everybody involved in the Sasol Solar Challenge is at the top of their game and aiming for constant innovation as they test ideas and technology in tough, real-world conditions,” said Elton Fortuin, Sasol’s vice president of group communication and brand management.

The event is currently on day five, the competitors heading from Graaff-Reinet to Port Elizabeth, through Jansenville. On Thursday they head to Sedgefield, before embarking on Swellendam on Friday, and then on to the finish line in Stellenbosch on Saturday.

You can link to the Sasol Solar Challenge website for more information or follow proceedings on social media with #SasolSolarChallenge.

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