Australian adventure awaits for Ardingly Solar Car project students

The Ardingly Solar Car in Victoria Park SUS-190107-143608001
The Ardingly Solar Car in Victoria Park SUS-190107-143608001

A student-built solar car will be shipped to Australia for a 3,000km Outback challenge.

The Ardingly Solar Car represents four years of collaboration by Ardingly and Ifield colleges, as part of a pioneering project to develop sustainable transport solutions.

A 26-strong team – the youngest being 16 years old – will head to Australia for the gruelling Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC).

The car was unveiled in Victoria Park, in Haywards Heath, on Saturday (June 30) as mayor Alastair McPherson gave an official goodbye.

Upper-sixth-form student at Ifield College Callum Porter said: “These harsh conditions will test both the team and the car to the limits, with temperatures greater than 45C.”

More than 300 school students have been part of the ten-year project to date.

The car unveiled on Saturday was just the latest iteration – the team competed in Australia in 2015 with the project’s first solar car, coming sixth in the cruiser class.

It remains the only school team from Europe to have ever taken part in the race.

The new car, featuring the latest solar technologies, has been built with the help of 33 companies, alongside the University of Surrey and University of Brighton.

Project director Andrew Spiers said: “A huge thanks is due to our sponsors and the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II and the Monaco Foundation. With their help we have realised what can be achieved by our school students in helping to make a positive difference.”

The team will live in the hostile outback, camping by the side of the road, for six days in October. A convoy will consist of five support vehicles, including a 3.5-tonne lorry to help carry supplies for the 450 meals required by the team.

Head engineer Nicholas Buck, studying mechanical engineering at Surrey, said: “This car has been a challenge to build but perhaps the greatest challenge is yet to come as we cross the outback.”

Deniol Lewes, upper-sixth student at Ardingly, said the project had ‘influenced my career choice, opening up the possibilities of engineering’.

Councillor McPherson said he was delighted to witness the collaberation between students and organisations.