Solar Challenge Morocco Day 1

Solar Challenge Morocco Day 1

Today is the day! After 1,5 years of preparation, we’re finally racing our Green Spirit. Not in Australia as planned, but 2400 km through Morocco. It is such an unreal feeling to actually be part of this race, but we feel more than ready to take on the challenge. Yesterday we won the qualification round which means we started in pole position today. We will update you daily on the race so you don’t miss out on any important moments!

Our first race day began early with breakfast at 6am. The night was short as usual, and after packing our personal belongings and important things for the race, we left to the Adrar stadium where the race officially begins and ends. The mood among all teams was tense, but excited – everyone was already anticipating the next important days. At 9:30am, we gathered at the start line with all teams and cars to prepare for the race. Sadly, not all of us could witness Green Spirit’s start since some convoy cars needed to go before the solar car. At 10am sharp, we took off!

Green Spirit at the start of the Solar Challenge Morocco

The first 20km were tricky since we had to leave Agadir in convoy. The traffic in Morocco is unpredictable and we had to make sure that no other cars would disturb our race convoy consisting of lead car, solar car and chase car. Especially the large amount of roundabouts posed a threat for Green Spirit, we actually witnessed a car crash directly in front of the media car. Luckily, an official on a motorbike guided us out of the city so we left Agadir without any major occurrences.

After around one hour in pole position, we were quite surprised to see Agoria in our rear-view mirrors. The Belgian team had started third after Vattenfall but was the first one to reach us, so you can imagine how fast they were driving. We let them take over and continued in second place. On our way to the mountains, we passed several small villages that have probably never seen a solar car before. Especially children were excited to see us, they stood next to the road and waved at all our convoy cars. After 1,5 hours, we spotted Nuna behind us. We had already seen some of Vattenfall’s convoy cars so we knew that they couldn’t be too far away. After driving directly behind us for a while, Nuna finally took over.

Green Spirit on the road

The next few hours went quite smoothly. Our communication via porta phones with each other and with other teams went well and we didn’t have too much trouble taking over busses, donkey-carts or cyclists. The landscape was scarce and empty as you would expect from a desert, but we could already see the Atlas-mountains appear at the horizon when we received a call from Twente who were quickly approaching. Our Northern neighbours overtook with Red Horizon after about four hours, just before we finally entered the mountains.

Driving through the mountains and taking all the sharp turns was a surreal experience. In Australia, the route is mostly straight and, according to old team members, not super exciting since the Outback is mostly flat and empty. The Moroccan landscape is in direct contrast to this - whenever we looked out of the window, there was something to see. Our favourite sight was of course Green Spirit that we could see from the cars whenever she took a turn (which happened quite often).

Timo during the first control stop

At 15:37, we reached the first official control stop of the race. Our driver Timo had to get out of the car as quickly as possible and press a big red button to stop our time. After that, we had 15 minutes to swap drivers, stretch our legs or go to the toilet. Green Spirit had to stand under a tent during the stop to prevent her to charge. After the stop, Jolijn took over and drove Green Spirit towards the end of the route of day 1.

At 6:41pm, we arrived 4th at the final stop for today in Zagora! The sun was just setting which led to a beautiful scenery for our arrival. We’re overall really pleased with how today went, and we’re convinced that we can adapt our race strategy based on today’s data so that we can get back to the top during the next days!

Green Spirit at the stop of day 1