Ardingly Solar Car Launch  September 22nd

Chairman of Governors Jim Sloane and Horsham MP Jeremy Quin arrived to see the finishing touches being made to the car on Friday 18th September. With the weather on their side, the team performed successful test drives over the weekend  at the South of England Showground. Race technique, emergency action, endurance and speed tests were all part of the intensive programme.

On Monday, Mechanics Manager Holly Hill and Team Manager Matt Price drove through the archway and across the quad between rows of cheering students. BBC South East captured the moment for their Monday evening show and then followed the car to its current workshop at wiring company Time 24 in Burgess Hill to film the careful disassembly of the team’s solar array.

Time 24 owner and director David Shore said: “The Ardingly students’ positivity and enthusiasm and their happiness at being in this project are infectious and have come through to our whole company. We have also enjoyed seeing them learn to find solutions under pressure, to communicate well and to work as a team – and to a budget: all these life-skills will carry them far.” Time 24 is also working on the Bloodhound project, on a car that aims to race at 1000 miles an hour; as David Shore says: “It is one extreme to another – a great contrast.”

On Tuesday  22nd September, the official launch took place – three years after the project was devised.  An audience of supporters and sponsors who have given practical help throughout  that time met at Time 24 and watched a presentation by the members of the student team.  After  paying tribute to Dr Andrew Spiers’ inspiration and leadership,  the students summarised the extraordinary range of work  and experiences they have enjoyed over the past three years.  As team driver and Media Manager James Price observed, after thousands of hours in various workshops, in companies and appealing for funds in boardrooms: “We realized we were not just building a solar car – that would be too easy – but running a little business too.”

One of Ardingly Solar’s key sponsors was Global Technologies Racing. Simon Kingdon Butcher,   director and owner, said  that while busy working on bodywork for clients such as Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren,  GTR  was keen to find time for the amazing  Solar Project:  “We are thrilled to be able to help – to make a difference here is immense.  GTR is committed to bringing on youngsters in our business and this is just the earlier stage. The Ardingly students have been super – they are polite but have so much character and are really driven. All of our staff will follow their progress with great interest and we are willing them to go the distance.”

On Wednesday the car will be crated and flown to Australia by sponsor DHL. Dr Spiers and the student team will follow in early October, ready for the race on 18thOctober. From there the real adventure takes off: 3000km, six days in the outback, four EV drivers, two support vehicles, tents, snakes, spiders, and kangaroos!