A SOLAR car designed and manufactured by a team of students is being prepared for its latest challenge.

Following their success at the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) in Australia, where Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) secured the best British finish in 20 years, the team had originally hoped to compete in the 2020 iLumen European Solar Challenge (iESC). It is the only 24-hour endurance race in the world for solar cars – held in Belgium every two years.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team made the difficult decision to withdraw from the race just last week, but decided to set their own ground-breaking challenge.

Despite the challenges 2020 has brought, they have worked tirelessly to improve and modify their car Ortus to ensure she is race ready and could perform competitively at iESC.

Their goal is to complete the distance from Durham to Circuit Zolder in Belgium, where iESC is taking place at the same time, and beyond, within 24 hours.

As the team cannot partake in the race itself, they are hoping to compete in spirit by doing the distance to the track. The 537 miles will be driven at RAF Ouston Airfield, with the team providing live updates as to where they would be if they were on public roads. There will be 6 drivers racing the car at RAF Ouston.

Ortus is made from carbon-fibre and uses a single, custom-made, in-wheel motor. It weighs just 178 kg and cruises on the highway using less power than a hairdryer. Its shape makes its aerodynamic drag comparable to just the wing mirrors on a regular car!

Whilst Covid-19 still poses a real challenge for the team to be able to complete their ambitious goals, DUEM’s future remains bright.

With plans to improve Ortus further, compete in new international challenges and begin designing their next car, the DUEM team will have plenty to do in 2021 and beyond.

Team principal Isaaac Rudden said: "It was a real shame to have to withdraw from the iLumen European Solar Challenge 2020 - everyone has worked incredibly hard this year to push Ortus to its limits, and we were all really looking forward to competing against the other European teams in Belgium.

"However, by doing OSC, we hope to be there in spirit; not even a global pandemic can stop a solar car team from taking on new challenges.

"We really wanted to do an event to showcase the excellent work we’ve done this year, as well as thank our amazing sponsors for the support they’ve given us - we wouldn’t be where we are today if not for their input."

The challenge will take place from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday.