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Updated: Sep 20, 2023

As a pioneer in energy efficient tyres, Bridgestone Southern Africa is, for the very first time, sponsoring the Ilanga Cup, a solar challenge that takes place today, 21 July at the Red Star Raceway in Delmas, Mpumalanga.

This new endurance event will see the best local solar car teams go head-to-head; the winning team being the one that racks up the most kilometres in the eight-hour long challenge. The race consists of six teams of 20, drawn from high school, university, and private engineer groups.

Professionals and amateurs alike will get a chance to test their solar cars and have the opportunity to learn more about team and vehicle dynamics. The aim of the Ilanga Cup is to nurture young and upcoming solar car teams and grow existing teams to be able to compete in internationally recognised larger-scale events, such as the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

“We are thrilled that Bridgestone Southern Africa has joined the Ilanga Cup as the headline sponsor,” said Robert Walker, Director of the Ilanga Cup. “Bridgestone is a leader in the automotive industry and is now evolving into a mobility solution provider. These elements align perfectly with the focus of the Ilanga Cup, which is to test innovation and technologies of future mobility. The event is also focused on testing alternative energy concepts – contributing towards cleaner and more sustainable mobility in southern Africa. We look forward to working with the multinational brand.”

“Motorsport disciplines across the globe are exploring more sustainable innovations,” says Shailesh Singh, Key Account Manager, Motorcycle and Motorsport at Bridgestone Southern Africa. “We have chosen to partner with the Ilanga Cup to showcase our passion for sustainability and community upliftment. Motorsport is loved by people from all walks of life, and we are excited to be involved in this event.”

The event itself is a steppingstone to the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and each team of university students is going for the top honours of being selected for the next level in South Africa – the Sasol Solar Challenge, from where the top performing teams will be selected to compete on a global level.

As a pioneer in energy efficient tyre technology, Bridgestone has developed a specialised tyre designed specifically for solar vehicles. The tyres complement the low rolling resistance, durability and surface adhesion required to keep these vehicles as efficient as possible. The lower the rolling resistance of the tyre is, the lower the energy consumption of the car and the CO2 emissions it produces. These technologies are currently being used in the tyres Bridgestone supplies to select manufacturers on their latest electric and hybrid vehicles.

“In line with Bridgestone Global’s corporate strategy, our brand focus is very much on sustainability, and this extends to motorsport,” adds Singh. “Bridgestone is a naming rights partner to the Bridgestone World Solar challenge. Supporting this event embodies our commitment to mobility, people and the environment. That’s why it makes strategic sense for us to support and sponsor similar initiatives in South Africa aimed at driving the evolution of mobility technologies.”

In 2021, Bridgestone applied its lightweight and environmentally friendly ENLITEN technology on tyres specially engineered for Lightyear One, the world’s first long-range solar electric powered car, providing the efficiency to maintain battery life, maximise vehicle range, and reduce environmental impact.

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