From Mvezo to Goodwood
A popular electric car racing challenge for schools, the Greenpower Challenge, made its way to the Mandela School of Science & Technology this year. Africa’s first Greenpower Challenge was launched with the cars handed over by Siemens to the engineering students in July, challenging two teams to build and race their very own electric cars.
The two teams – as part of their engineering classes – built the cars in the weeks that followed, learning that applying textbook knowledge to something practical takes a lot of practice and hard work.
The teams, having put all their energies into the vehicles, then pitted their cars against each other at the end of August 2014. The stakes were high – the winning team would be flown to the UK to compete at the global Greenpower Challenge for 2014 at Goodwood raceway. With incredible spirit, the teams finished their kit cars, designated themselves “Genius 10” and the “A Team” and practiced their battery changes for the pits. On 31 August 2014, the two teams lined up on the Mthatha airport runway, which was closed for the special race.
The race had several elements, including endurance laps and battery changes in the pit stops, where team and driver had to work together with Formula 1 efficiency.
The Genius 10 team cheered their driver on as he approached the finishing line, and were crowned the victors of the day.
Hard work followed to get the car ready for the global race at Goodwood Raceway in the UK – the Greenpower Challenge for 2014. The first African team to compete in the Greenpower finals, the Mandela School students were pitted against over 75 other eager groups. For many, it was their first time travelling, and their beloved electric car also had to make the big trip to the UK – for the Madiba Magic racer, it was freight by crate:
On October 13, race day, the team put their all into the four-hour endurance race. Pit stops had to be flawless as the team made their way from one heat to another, proudly representing South Africa as they sped around the famous track. Not only were the MSST team’s spirits hey, but other teams competing on the day showed immense support all throughout the day.
After a long day and hard work on the car in-between elimination heats, the team not only successfully completed the challenge, but went on to win the award for the Best Presented Team of the day – a very proud moment for a team from a small village! The experience of practically applying their skills to a project which would take them to such great heights will, hopefully, stay with these students and motivate them for years to come.