Belgium’s Innoptus team conquers the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Belgium’s Innoptus team has marked a remarkable victory, securing first place for the second consecutive time in the illustrious Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC). The event is a distinguished race where dozens of solar vehicles, driven by the brilliance of engineers predominantly students from around the globe, traverse the challenging terrains of Australia from Darwin to Adelaide.

In the Challenger Class, which Innoptus conquered, regulations allow only a single-seat vehicle with one driver at any given time, with the flexibility of changing the driver up to six times. The competitors have to be meticulously prepared, as the race unfolds daily from 8 AM to 5 PM. Teams have to show remarkable self-sufficiency, camping along the route and ensuring their vehicles’ continuous optimal operation despite the unpredictable and harsh conditions.

In the 2019 event, fortune favored the Belgians when the lead car from the Netherlands succumbed to flames. Fast forward to the recent race, after the cancellation of the 2021 event due to global pandemic restrictions, Innoptus displayed unparalleled excellence and strategy. They completed the race in a time of 34 hours, 4 minutes, and 41 seconds, improving their previous winning time by about five minutes. This accomplishment was despite the course’s difficult conditions, with the presence of bushfires, unpredictable weather, and fluctuating solar power due to the constraints of the car’s solar array.

Adhering strictly to competition requirements, vehicles could not exceed 5 meters in length and 2.2 meters in width, and the solar arrays, crucial for powering the cars, were limited to an area no more significant than 4 square meters. These parameters placed a premium on every bit of sunlight available, making the task significantly more challenging given the wildfire smoke along the route.

Depicted in jubilant celebration, the victorious Innoptus team hails from KU Leuven in Belgium. Images courtesy Innoptus Solar Team

Innoptus’s team manager, Cedric Verlinden, highlighted that strategic anticipation was a crucial aspect of their victory, as the team had to continually adapt to changing elements like bushfires, clouds, and fluctuating weather conditions throughout the grueling 3,000-kilometer journey.

An innovative fin uniquely designed on top of their winning car, Infinite, was a remarkable aspect of Innoptus’s strategy. This fin contributed significantly to the car’s stability amidst challenging crosswinds experienced during the race, embodying the ingenious adaptations and the level of preparedness showcased by the team.

This was the 10th iteration of the Belgian team’s car for the BWSC, a challenge that has been fostering innovation and competition in solar vehicle technology since 1987. Check out the reveal video of the solar car below.

Infinite, the tenth Belgian Solar Car

Source: Innoptus Solar Team

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