Three Saudi scholarship students in Japan made history as they were part of a Tokai University solar car team that won first place in Sasol Challenge South Africa on Sept. 28.
The Saudi members of the team were Emad Kamal, Abdul Rahman Al-Khateeb and Anas Al-Mourae, who are engineering students at the university.
Essam Bukhari, cultural attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Tokyo, congratulated Saudi students for their victory. He noted the Saudi government’s efforts to develop the skills of the national cadre.
He said Tokai University had placed Saudi Arabia’s logo on the solar car during the race in appreciation of the role of Saudi students.
The Japanese university team extended its dominance in the world’s longest-distance solar car race as they won all three races held since the inception of the biennial event in 2008.
The team’s victory this year followed its win in the 2011 World Solar Challenge held in Australia last year, when Panasonic, as a sponsor, provided the team with its HIT solar cells boasting the world’s highest-level conversion efficiency as well as high-capacity lithium-ion batteries.
A total of 14 teams from around the world set off from Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, on Sept. 18 to challenge the roughly 4,600 km loop course circling around the country, a grueling course with a maximum elevation difference of about 2,000 m.
The Tokai University team returned to Pretoria on Sept. 28, crossing the finish line first at 11:03 a.m. (local time) after driving a total distance of 4,632 km in 71 hours and 13 minutes.
The Sasol Solar Challenge South Africa is one of the solar car rallies of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) Alternative Energies Cup events.
Professor Hideki Kimura of Tokai University, adviser to the solar car team, expressed his joy.
“The course was very challenging, long with lots of ups and downs. But the students’ teamwork and Panasonic’s HIT solar cells and lithium-ion batteries made a formidable combination and brought us our third win in a row,” he said.
He added: “We are more than happy with our achievement — we finished the race 18 hours and 42 minutes ahead of the runner-up.”
The students superbly maneuvered the solar car, said Masato Ito, President, Energy Company of Panasonic Corporation.
“They took advantage of our high-performance HIT solar panels and high capacity lithium-ion batteries to the fullest extent and made us proud to be part of the winning team,” he added.