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By 2 October 2012 | Categories: news

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The gruelling 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge endurance race concluded on Friday with the local teams, especially the team from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), holding SA’s name high courtesy of its overall third place finish.

A total of 13 teams kicked off their 5 400 km long journey from the CSIR Campus in Pretoria on 18 September, and took 11 days to cover the distance in their custom designed solar powered vehicles.

World Champions, Tokai University were named overall winners of the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge. Their Japanese counterparts, Shinozuka, finishing closely behind in second place, with UKZN flying the local flag, proudly claiming third spot on the podium.

During the race, records fell as the team from North West University (NWU) covered the furthest distance in their Olympia Class racer with 1087.2 km on the clock, while the UKZN delivered the best showing from a local team in the converted challenge class by covering a total of 1930.9 km.

An encouraging fact about this year’s challenge was the large (nine) number of South African teams that entered in the different classes, with many of them going on to compete fiercely as the challenge progressed.

The teams from NWU and the University of Johannesburg, for example, were the stars in their respective categories as both teams won in their respective classes. UKZN was second in their class, right behind the more experienced championship winning team from Tokai.

The next Solar Challenge endurance race will be held in 2014.

“The event this year was an all-round success. In the beginning, many of our local teams were a little overwhelmed by the whole occasion but we were happy that as the challenge progressed they came into their stride,” explained race organiser Winstone Jordaan.

“Our international competitors found that this was a very challenging race and one that was very unique to what they were used to on other races. The numerous stop and go’s on the challenging roads and conditions ensured that the race remained entertaining for the full 11 days,” Jordaan concluded.

Sasol Group Executive, Maurice Radebe added: “I believe that this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge stimulated young minds in the marvel of solar technology and the engineering that goes into it. It’s an exciting platform to draw talent into the fields of science, engineering and technology.”

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