Student unharmed after solar car accident

Issued by
Johannesburg, Sep 26, 2016

The Sasol Solar Challenge from Pretoria to Cape Town kicked off on Saturday. In addition to the international participants, the Sirius X25 from the NWU's Faculty Engineering also competed.

The final time trial was held yesterday afternoon (22 September) and Sirius X25 was placed second on the time trial rankings when a freak accident occurred: Sirius X25 was upended by a sudden gust of wind! Luckily the driver, Estienne Janse van Rensburg, was unharmed, although personnel from ER24 assisted him on the scene of the accident.

"Injuries" to the solar car were, however, far worse: damage to the solar panels, the non-load bearing structure, the cabin exterior, the wiring and parts of the chassis. Initial thoughts were that Sirius X25 would have to withdraw from the challenge.

And then a miracle started happening: in the spirit of cooperation, other participating teams (including international participants!) not only encouraged us to repair Sirius X25 within the remaining 48 hours, they also offered their assistance.

Furthermore, the CSIR made their facilities available to the NWU team. Alumni who were part of previous solar car teams voluntarily reported for duty! Prof Albert Helberg, team leader of Sirius X25, says this aid and support made students experience how team spirit, camaraderie, working till the candle's wick is burnt and staying calm, can transform a crisis situation into a unique opportunity! Thus, one of the objectives of the solar car project was unwittingly realised.

May the men and women from NWU's Faculty Engineering and their volunteers succeed in completing their "emergency operation" on Sirius X25 so that it could pass its safety test within the next 48 hours.

The whole NWU is backing everyone of Sirius X25's team members!

Follow the NWU solar car Sirius X25's progression here:

Follow the team's adventures (and how it is going with them) at: