TU Delft: Vattenfall Solar Team on third place after intensive first day in Marocco

The Vattenfall Solar Team looks back on the first day of the Solar Challenge Morocco with satisfaction. The team lost one position and is now in third place with Nuna11, over half an hour behind leader Agoria Solar Team. Nevertheless, team captain Christiaan Wiers looks back on the first stage with a good feeling. “Yesterday was tough, with first the hectic traffic of Agadir and later in the desert camels and donkeys on the road. Also the steep mountain slopes with sharp turns were sometimes quite difficult. Fortunately, we did manage to follow our own plan.”

The first kilometers of the race were dominated by the heavy traffic in Agadir. Motorcycle cops made sure, with sirens blaring, that Nuna11 could be guided through the traffic without too much delay. Once the solar car left the city, the traffic quickly subsided. The whitewashed villas of the city gave way to earthen-tinted houses made of stone and rammed earth. The landscape also changed: soon the first mountain pass came into sight.

To the mountains as quickly as possible
The Vattenfall Solar Team had set out to head for the mountains as quickly as possible. After all, it’s a lot harder to overtake on the steep and curvy roads. But the Belgian world champions from Agoria succeeded best at this. Even before Nuna had left the city limits of Agadir, the Belgians whizzed past. Then the Vattenfall Solar Team managed to overtake the first starting Groningers of Top Dutch Solar Racing. This enabled the team to reach the control stop, the mandatory fifteen minute break, in second place.

Steep slopes and a camel on the road
Driver Stijn van Muiden: “It was quite difficult to drive Nuna through the mountains. Of course, those steep slopes put a lot of strain on the engine. In addition, the road surface was not equally good everywhere and the sharp bends also make it difficult as a driver. Fortunately, we managed to stick to our own plan, even though we had to stop once more for a camel on the road.”

Cloud cover takes away a lot of sunlight
Immediately after the control stop, the landscape changed to a stone desert, with a low bush here and there. The Vattenfall Solar Team was overtaken by Solar Team Twente in that desolate environment and so Nuna drove third into the encampment in Zagora. The generous sunshine that everyone had been counting on was absent the entire day. A cloud cover moved inland from the sea and none of the teams succeeded in staying ahead of the clouds. What influence this has on the amount of power left in the batteries is unknown. In order not to make the competition any the wiser, the teams are not making any statements about this.

Today will be the toughest day
Today is the longest stage of the race. In this stage, there are again many climbs to tackle and it will become clear whether the Nuna design is up to the challenges of the Moroccan interior. Team leader Wiers: “Today we have the steepest parts, where even an ordinary car can have difficulty. But with the experience we gained in the mountains yesterday, we look forward to the second stage with confidence.”