Morocco Week 4: Ready to race!
Our last week before the start of the Solar Challenge Morocco was a real rollercoaster! From eventful testing days to our first visit to the Adrar Stadium to prepare for scrutineering and qualification, there was a lot going on. Read on to get the latest news and find out if we made it to pole position. 😉
Although it has almost been a full month since we arrived in Agadir, most of us can’t really believe that it is almost time to race. Time really flew by and we are almost too busy to realize that the Solar Challenge Morocco officially begins in less than 24 hours. The mood within the team ranges from excited over stressed to really, really tired. Nonetheless, we feel more than ready to race against all the other amazing teams and show off what we’ve been working on for the last 1,5 years.
On Wednesday, we tested Green Spirit again on the mall parking lot (Read our last blogs if you missed out on our first test days!). This time, we specifically trained slaloms and figure-8’s since they are part of the dynamic scrutineering. During one of our test runs, Green Spirit unfortunately tilted and fell on its side which was a shock for the whole team. We are not sure what caused this incident, but what’s most important is that our driver didn’t get injured. After the first shock, we assessed the damage and were relieved when our technical team concluded that we were able to continue. The design of the car got some scratches and the hinge of the solar deck was slightly damaged, but after ten minutes we were on the road again! We are proud of the sturdiness of our Green Spirit and can’t wait to race her through the desert!
On Thursday, we arrived at the Adrar Stadium where the race will officially start and end. Before the race, the organization gives all teams access to the area to prepare for the race and test their cars. It was really cool to finally meet our friends from Twente and Agoria again. Last time we saw each other was during our car presentations in July. We are competitors on the race track, but otherwise we are always up for a chat and have fun together. Solar Team Twente decided to take a piece of Dutch culture to North-Africa and showed up with a tandem at the test site! Being a bunch of student racing teams, of course we challenged each other to a race. We sadly didn’t win, but the biggest race is yet to start!
This weekend was one of the most nerve-wrecking ones because the scrutineering and qualification took place. Before every solar challenge, all participating solar cars are assessed based on the race regulations and checked for safety. After all, every car should have an equal chance of winning the race and mustn’t endanger the drivers in any way. The regulations of the Solar Challenge Morocco are based on those for the cancelled Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2021, so we didn’t have to massively adjust our car design for this race. During the scrutineering, the race officials check the mechanical and electrical components of the car, but also driver safety, driver operation and general characteristics of the car (measures, weight etc.). Even the convoy cars are part of the scrutineering since the race regulations also include requirements for support cars.
Since the scrutineering also took place at the Adrar Stadium, we had the opportunity to see all cars up close which was really interesting. Even though we all have to follow the same rules, all six cars look completely different. Green Spirit apparently doesn’t only draw attention with her pretty design – once we opened the solar deck everyone came to have a look, some even took notes. Thanks to the meticulous preparation of our technical team and safety officer, we passed the static scrutineering. There is always some minor things to be improved but overall we are super happy with the result!
After the static scrutineering came the dynamic scrutineering which assesses the mobility of our solar car. Our driver Timo had to complete a parcours consisting of several ‘obstacles’ such as a slalom, a figure-8 and a brake test. The slalom and figure-8 had to be driven in a set amount of time, that’s why we had been training those parts during our test days as well. We didn't only pass the dynamic scrutineering, we performed best out of all teams! Timo drove the slalom in 10:60 seconds and the figure-8 in 13:31 seconds. We're super proud of this result, well done Timo and all mechanics who made this possible!
The last big hurdle before the start of the race was the qualification. It establishes the order in which the teams are allowed to start the race on Monday. There is a 3-minute period between each team so of course it is a big advantage if you can start as one of the first teams! In order to determine the order, every team needed to drive one lap around the stadium as quickly as possible. Green Spirit was the first up and finished in 2:16:56 which is the fastest lap we have ever driven on this track! The other teams were also strong, but at the end of the day our lap time was the fastest which means we will start in pole position tomorrow!!
We are extremely excited for the race and can’t wait to stand at the start line tomorrow at 10am Moroccan time. We will post blogs daily during the race so definitely keep an eye out on our socials!