No D-day yet in the Sasol Solar Challenge
Strategic dance between frontrunners Netherlands and Belgium
Jeffreys Bay, Sept. 14, 2022 - The sixth day of the Sasol Solar Challenge promised to be D-day for the Dutch and Belgian team. Following distinct routes during the first several days of the race, yesterday's Blind Stage made sure that both teams would start today's stage with a relatively similar start position. Both cars left this morning with roughly equal battery levels. So on the sixth day of the challenge, a lot seemed possible. Would one of the teams advance and make the difference in the standings? It turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.
Instead of choosing their own strategy, both teams followed each other closely today. The Brunel Solar Team started from pole position, but was overtaken quite quickly by Agoria, the Belgian team. Both teams kept following each other with a gap of mere seconds. Around noon, the Dutch Solar Team managed to overtake the Belgians again and held the lead until just before the end of the race. There, they allowed the Belgian team to pass them so they could copy their tracks and decide whether or not to complete one more loop. However, both teams decided to drive straight to the day stop and thus finished yet another day with the same number of kilometers on the counter. As a result, the Brunel Solar Team maintained a 30-kilometer lead over the Belgian team. In addition, on the last 100 km they took pole position for tomorrow by overtaking the Belgian team on route from the loop to the day stop.
Road constructions and route changes
Today's route proved quite the challenge, with a number of (literal) obstacles. Road constructions took place during the optional loop, forcing traffic to take turns on one side of the road. Prescout Alinda Dersjant, in consultation with the traffic controller, made sure that Nuna could drive straight through: 'That was quite exciting, because we always had to make sure that the traffic on the other side of the road stopped in time, or it would lead to a head-on collision. Fortunately, the traffic controllers were very helpful and by communicating well we were able to estimate exactly what time we would arrive.'
Because of the construction work, the organisation decided to alter the course of the loop twice. The strategy team experienced a stressful day as a result of having to calculate the effects of these modifications last minute. Nevertheless, both teams kept to their original strategy.
Consequently, the Dutch and Belgian teams arrived at the day's stop with the same number of kilometres on the counter. Due to the last minute overtaking, the Dutch team was slightly faster. Therefore the overall final score remains the same as yesterday's; the Brunel Solar Team remains in the lead with a 30 km lead over the Belgian team.
Tomorrow is the so-called "Halfblind Stage," making it another strategically challenging day. This means that the optional loop’s route won’t be made public until 18.15 this evening. The strategy team has the night to determine how this will affect the strategy, particularly the amount of loops that can be driven tomorrow. This might make the difference between the Brunel Solar Team and the Belgian team.