Friday, September 25, 2015

Bridgestone Sponsorship at WSC

Nigel Stephens pointed out this page to me, which details Bridgestone's sponsorship of the entries into WSC this year. There's a nice little writeup on each of the teams they're sponsoring, and links to all of their social media - I've updated all of the links on my team pages (somehow I'd missed every single one of the youtube accounts for the Japanese teams).

Of note, it looks like Bridgestone is giving a whole bunch of teams their new Ecopia solar car tire. As far as I know, Kogakuin was the only team using the new Ecopia at WSC in 2013, but it looks like up to 19 teams are going to be using them this year. Notably missing from the list of sponsored teams are all of the Dutch teams and all of the American teams - which shuts all of Tokai's major competitors out from getting the new tires.

The 14" Bridgestone Ecopia EP80 was a staple of the solar car racing world for years, but it's a slick tire and therefor hasn't been allowed at WSC since 2007 - for 2009 onward, WSC has required a minimum tread depth. Dunlop also never updated their SolarMax tire to comply with those regs, so teams have basically been stuck with Michelin Radial X at the past three WSC events if they want to be competitive - and they're very hard to acquire. Schwalbe's WSC-compliant version of the Energizer S was introduced in 2011(?), but it just doesn't seem to have been able to meet the performance of the Radial X.

The solar car world really needs another source of competitive tires, and I wonder if that Ecopia can perform. It'll be interesting to see if they give Tokai (and MegaLux) an edge over Michigan, Nuon, Stanford, and Twente in the Challenger class - and Kogakuin, UNSW, and Lodz an edge over the rest of the Cruiser class.

If anyone can find a datasheet with a Crr value for the new Ecopia, I would be very interested to see it!

Other notable things off the Bridgestone page:
  • In the Asia-Pacific tab, at the bottom - the first photos I've seen of Beijing's car!
  • Still no photo of RVCE's car
  • Only a rendering of Intikallpa IV, next to a picture of Intikallpa III.

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