All teams are currently preparing their participation at the 24 hours iLumen European Solar Challenge. During the next weeks, each team will be presented on the iESC website. Today we introduce you the Belgian Punch Powertrain Solar Team.
“Our new team consists of 21 engineering students of Leuven University who started building a new solar car to participate at the World Solar Challenge of 2017”, team leader Joachim Verheyen explains. “In 2015 the Punch Powertrain Solar Team finished on the fifth place, which was the second best result ever for the Belgian solarcar team. In 2007 we became vice World Champion.”
The Punch Powertrain Solar team will participate at the iESC with the Indupol One, the solar car that participated at the 2013 World Solar Challenge. “It was built by 15 engineering students of Leuven University. The car finished sixth in the WSC in 2013 and third in the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. It was the first Belgian solar car with four wheels. In 2013 it won the innovation award of the WSC with a 3D printed housing for the battery pack.”
The Punch Powertrain Solar team will defend Belgian colours on their own home ground. Will the team feel extra pressure to deliver a good performance? “It’s just fantastic that the first race of the new team will take place on Circuit Zolder”, Verheyen says. “Some of us have attended the famous 24 hours of Zolder in the past and it’s great that we can participate in a similar race with our solar car. We don’t feel any extra pressure. On the contrary, since our family members will be there, we are extremely motivated to drive the perfect race. We will try to avoid technical problems, finish the race smoothly and if possible… to cross the finish line as the winner of the race! The Tesla S model is a great car, but if we can plan well our race, we believe we can beat him. It will probably be a very narrow race, but anything is possible!”
In comparison with other solar car challenges, the iESC is an endurance race that lasts 24 hours. Does this mean that a different approach is needed? “The main difference is that the team will have to focus during a much longer period of time”, Verheyen knows. “We will have to work in different shifts in order to ensure that our car will be able to drive 24 hours. Our race strategy will partly be different because the race will be an endurance test more than ever before.”
A lot of fans will be present at the Zolder Circuit race track to encourage the Belgian team. “A solar car race is a very rare phenomenon in Belgium. The cars are really eyecatching and a technological marvel. The race itself will be very nice to see because the cars will aim at different speeds, which will result in many overtaking manoeuvres. A 24 hour race on solar energy never took place before. Together we will write a small piece of history!”