One year later Apperion and Team Sunergy returned to the FSGP, this time in Pittsburgh, PA at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex. During Scrutineering, the only issue flagged was the battery protection system (BPS). The team replaced and reprogrammed the BPS; getting cleared the following morning, making Apperion the 6th car to pass the inspection.
It was already a great feat for a first year team to effectively pass the scrutineering process, but all the expedited work over the last two semesters showed on the very first day of track qualification. Needing to drive a minimum of 128 laps in any of the three track days, Apperion finished the very first day with 152 laps, qualifying the team for the American Solar Challenge.
Following the third track day, the team had little time to celebrate since they were off to Ohio to race in the 2016 American Solar Challenge. Unlike the FSGP which was held on a closed track, the ASC took place over 1,975 miles of highway spanning from Brecksville, Ohio to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Before the race began insurance issues clouded the possibility of the team being able to take part in the race. Had it not been for the determination of Appalachian State's Chancellor Sheri Everts to acquire the required insurance, we would not have been able to compete.
Starting the ASC in the 3rd pole position, Team Sunergy followed right behind the leading pack of Michigan and Principia. With a race strategy of slow, steady and consistent, Team Sunergy's leading pole position slowly declined throughout the 8-day, 6-state race. The summer weather in the Mid-West was unforgiving for a solar race week; most days the teams were dealt fog and rain as the main challenge to combat. Relying only on the sun to charge the solar vehicle batteries, all the teams found their battery life depleting.
At this devestating point in the ASC, Team Sunergy and Apperion needed a recharge. With only one race day to go to reach the finish line, Apperion's battery had completely drained, laying at rest with only 113 volts. Reluctantly, Apperion was trailed to a charging location near the next checkpoint reaching Nebraska, also taking penalty knocking the team down to 9th place. The team found a sunny plateau off-course to set up to charge the car, as well as a much needed mental and physical charge for themselves. After a few hours, Apperion was at full capacity to race again, and the teammates were fueled up with positive energy, ready to dominate the last leg of the competition.
Team Sunergy's strategy and sacrifices have proven success. Lining up with full battery the final day of the race in 9th pole position, competing against teams with little to no battery life left, Apperion was ready to race and ready to win. It was six hours until the finish line, driving the most challenging terrain of the ASC, with fog beginning to increase and rain releasing from the sky. Apperion finished 1st place for the final stage on only solar power, whilst most other teams were forced to trailer under these dangerous conditions. A celebration was necessary for the risks Team Sunergy took to challenge their build of Apperion during the ASC. Along with finishing 6th place overall in their first appearance in the solar vehicle racing industry, Team Sunergy received the Abraham Poot Teamwork Award and Fastest Driver Egress. Finishing up this excursion, the team took a road-trip style travel back to their home in Boone, NC, never to forget the exhaustion, strain and tests they put on themselves all for further education of solar vehicle transportation.
Although many may know and love our solar car, Apperion, it was only through the generosity of a fellow racing team that made our dreams a reality. Back in the Spring of 2015, Project Director, Daniel Blakeley, was in the process of designing our very own solar vehicle until Iowa State's Team PrISUm generously came forward and offered to donate the shell of one of their previous models, Hyperion. Two months later, the car changed hands and found a new home and name.
In the Summer of 2015, only a few months after Apperion was given to us, Team Sunergy entered the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) at the Circuit of Americas in Texas. The team worked tirelessly to get the car on the track. With help from competing teams, Team Sunergy fully completed building Apperion by the end of the 3 day race.
With the understanding of how the solar racing industry works, we targeted failures made on our first attempt to ensure an improved performance the next race coming up in one year. Primarily, the entire electronic system was optimized to meet FSGP and American Solar Challenge (ASC) Scrutineering Regulations.