Le Mans is often heralded as the "Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency". 24 hours of high-octane, petrol-fuelled racing in the heart of France across 13.6km of track. Pretty impressive right? Now imagine 3000km of road in the barren Australian outback. Imagine a car which gets its power from nothing but the sun. Imagine days on end of solar-powered racing down the length of a continent. The World Solar Challenge is a truly phenomenal test.
Every two years teams from all over the world congregate in Australia for the biggest event on the solar calendar. Cars created in the UK, USA, Japan, Holland, Korea and more are gathered to put their designs to the test in a gruelling marathon of renewable energy. A genuine passion for their car, and for the progress it represents, is palpable amongst every team.
With the first World Solar Challenge having taken place way back in 1987, the race has evolved a huge amount through the years. By 2005, the South Australian speed limit of 110 km/h was beginning to curb the potential of some breathtaking machines. It was time for a rule change. The competition adapted, challenging teams to create a car which could be a genuine sustainable transport solution by imposing a maximum solar array size of 6 square metres. By 2017, this had been cut to 4 square metres: the challenge was getting ever greater.
In recent years DUEM (Durham Electric Motorsport), the UK's leading solar car team, have been a mainstay of the race. Qualifying third in 2011, DUEM returned to Australia in 2015 and performed well under very difficult circumstances. In 2017, DUEM were back again in the Challenger class, completing 1000km on solar power despite biblical rain storms thwarting further progress. Find out more about the technical side of the car here. As the only UK team to enter last year, DUEM are putting British motorsport and renewable energy on the map.
In 2019 the race across a continent will be on once again, with a new set of regulations setting ever greater tests. The world will be watching, and DUEM will be there. Take a look at our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to follow our journey.