Scrutineers were at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria to ensure that the sun-powered vehicles not only met the regulations but were safe and stable enough to compete on public roads in this epic challenge.
The challenge began in Pretoria on Saturday (Sept 27) and will end in Cape Town on October 4.
The route has stops in Sasolburg, Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Graaff-Reinet, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Swellendam and cars will cover around 260km a day - powered by sunlight alone.
As a partner to the solar challenge and supporter of solar research, the CSIR contributes towards the challenge by make its technical and scientific staff available to handle vehicle assessments.
ROADWORTHY A MUST
Scrutineer Tumelo Motloutsi, a software engineer from the CSIR Material Science and Manufacturing division, studied the challenge regulations which stipulate rules for the three classes of cars taking part.
Motloutsi said: “Cars must comply not only with the regulations but must also be roadworthy."
There were two main criteria - physical and mechanical aspects and the electrical system that must be safe for not only the driver but for other road users and spectators.
Further, speaking on safety, Motloutsi said: “Batteries must be properly located and not close to the driver and a safety cut-out switch must be provided in case of an accident.
"From a physical and mechanical perspective, cars must be inherently stable, be able to perform manoeuvres in line with their size and speed capability, not cause a hazard to other road users, and provide protection for the driver.”
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
A full-scale braking test was also conducted to ensure that cars could stop properly. Any aspects of the car that had not met the regulations would have had to be corrected or be non-starters.
Competing against teams from The Netherlands, Turkey and Cyprus are teams from the universities of KZN, North West, TUT, Wits, UJ and UCT. This year, the challenge will also include participation from Maragon Private School.
Sasol became involved with the Solar Challenge in 2012 and sponsorship manager Richard Hughes said: “We believe it's vitally to be part of an event which promotes research into the development of innovative technology.
“Students are exposed to the whole gambit of organisation that goes on behind the scenes of the race - planning, budgeting, logistics, materials procurement, construction techniques, harnessing appropriate technologies or developing new ones and ensuring that all these elements come together to provide a winning combination."
• For more information and to get behind your favourite team, follow the Sasol Solar Challenge on Twitter @Solar_Challenge, like the Facebook pageor visit the website.