The iLumen European Solar Challenge took place from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th of September on the Circuit Zolder racing track in Belgium. In the only 24-hour endurance race for Solar Cars, Stella Era and Stella Vie both aimed at the European title in the Cruiser Class. Not only is this challenge a great way to test the skills of the old teams, it was also an incredible opportunity to introduce the new team members to the intricacies of the trade.
After both cars passed Scrutineering on Thursday, the cars started Dynamic Parcour on Friday where Vie managed to beat Era. After this test, the biggest challenge started on Saturday at 13:00 where the cars lined up on the grid for the 24-hour race. The drivers all lined up in front of the solar cars for the Le Mans-style start. After the flag went down the drivers ran across the track and climbed into the solar cars.
We are proud to say Stella Vie drove off in first place, while Stella Era sped off in a respectable fourth place. Since the track was all clear in front of Stella Vie, it was decided to start off with a couple of hot laps without passengers. During these hot laps Stella Vie reached a top speed of 109 km/h on the straights. In the first couple of laps Stella Vie set a great fastest lap time that ended up being the third best lap-time of Vehicles from all classes. After this quick stint, Stella Vie also picked up two passengers and started cruising at a lower, more energy efficient speed.
At the early stage of the race, Vie managed to build up a sizable margin on Era. However, Vie started to get some reliability issues and at night on Sunday Vie had to stop for four hours to change a component. During this stop, our Engineers did everything they could to get Vie driving as soon as possible, but during this time Era managed to overtake Vie in lap-count.
When the sun came up both cars were up and running again. Vie had quite a challenge ahead of herself to catch up with Era who had been driving laps around the track for the entire time Vie was off the track. While in the last part of the race Vie started overtaking Era again, Era had gained such a large margin that it was impossible for Vie to make the race interesting again.
After completing 229 laps of racing at Circuit Zolder, Stella Era managed to cross the line as winner of the iLumen European Solar challenge in the Cruiser Class and Stella Vie obtained second place with 161 laps driven. After the race, Stella Era provided the grid with some Solar-powered snacks, after which the award ceremony started. The victory was celebrated with a spray of champagne after receiving the trophy.
In the Challenger Class, Agoria Solar Team’s Bluepoint obtained an impressive victory, with Solar Team Twente’s Red E coming in at second place and Top Dutch Solar Racing’s Green Lightning rounded up the podium at 3rd place. All results can be found here. We would like to thank all other teams for their enthusiasm and sportsmanship during the European Solar Challenge. Also, enormous gratitude goes out to the competition management, sponsors and all other parties involved for organizing this event.