TC|Daily | Behind the Sasol Solar Challenge, with owner Rob Walker

Rob Walker, owner and director of the Sasol Solar Challenge, joins TechCentral’s TC|Daily to chat about the biennial event that sees local and international teams “racing” entirely solar-powered vehicles across the length and breadth of South Africa.
Founded in 2008 by now GridCars CEO Winstone Jordaan (himself a recent guest on TC|Daily), the 2022 edition of the Sasol Solar Challenge has just concluded. In this episode of TC|Daily, Walker, who bought the event from Jordaan in 2019, talks about the origins of the race and the highlights of the 2022 edition.
Walker explains that the “race”, which covers more than 2 000km, is as much about inspiring the youth into the science and engineering fields, with talks at schools along the route, as it is about the teams showing off their design, manufacturing and strategy skills.
The ultimate winner is the team that manages to clock the most kilometres travelled. The cars’ solar panels are at the “cutting edge of energy technology and stretch over the entire surface of the unique, knee-high cars”.
“The driver sits in an aerodynamic cockpit. Every piece of electronics, carbon fibre, aluminium and steel is as customised as the parts on a Formula 1 racer,” the Sasol Solar Challenge website explains.
“The event runs on public roads, sharing space with trucks and regular traffic, and passes through multiple small towns, to the fascination and excitement of local communities who come out in their thousands to witness science and technology in action.”