The Nuon Solar Team successfully completed their initial off-road training, which took place in Safaripark Beekse Bergen in The Netherlands. They trained in preparation for the world’s longest solar race, the Sasol Solar Challenge, that will take place in South Africa starting from 27 September.
Nuna, the world’s fastest solar-powered car, found itself amidst a parade of zebras and giraffes, and even encountered several cheetahs. In the wild, these cheetahs can run about as fast as Nuna drives during a solar-powered race – approximately 100 km per hour (Nuna’s top racing speed is approximately 140 km per hour).
‘The animals seemed perfectly at ease with Nuna and our team,’ according to race driver Tim van Leeuwen, the student of Delft University of Technology who drove the Nuna today. Tim will also be competing behind the wheel in South Africa.
In Safaripark Beekse Bergen, Nuna was followed by a mission control jeep of the Nuon Solar Team, providing remote support for the driver. During the off-road training session, the Nuon Solar Team mainly focused on the way the driver and the animals responded to one another.
Race driver Tim van Leeuwen explained: ‘Needless to say it was very exciting and we were all anxious to find out how giraffes would respond to our futuristic car, or whether I would be able to remain calm when suddenly confronted with a herd of zebras. Having competed in the solar races in Australia, we are used to interacting with kangaroos, but we have never dealt with the Big Five before. It is a good thing that we were able to practise dealing with them in Safaripark Beekse Bergen!’
Adjustments to Nuna
The Nuon Solar Team furthermore monitored aspects such as stability, manoeuvrability and speed in a natural environment. During earlier training sessions, the team discovered that they would need a heavier engine in South Africa, and a larger battery with greater capacity.
In addition, the solar panel has been improved. The Nuon Solar Team has also tuned the solar car more tautly. ‘All in all, it was a successful training,’ according to race driver Tim. ‘We, the Nuon Solar Team, will do everything that is within our power to win the challenge in September.’
Winner of the World Solar Challenge
The Nuna solar car was built by a team of students of Delft University of Technology, the Nuon Solar Team. This innovative vehicle won the World Solar Challenge in Australia in 2013, a five-day race covering nearly 3,000 kilometres, completely powered by solar energy.
This took Nuna approximately 33 hours, making the Nuon Solar Team the fastest solar racing team in the world. In September, the team will compete, for the first time, in the Sasol Solar Challenge, a race across South Africa. They will drive at least 2,000 kilometres in eight days, from Pretoria to Cape Town. This is a preparation for the 2015 World Solar Challenge. By participating with Nuna, the Nuon Solar Team aims to show the world of possibilities of high-end technology and renewable energy.