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Solar power versus human power: Kenyan races machine over 600m

Kenyan Nicholas Kipkoech went head-to-head with a solar-powered car over 600m in a unique race at the Brussels Diamond League on Friday.

Nicholas Kipkoech

Today the machine won! #memorialvandamme #brusselsdl

A photo posted by Memorial Van Damme (@memorialvandamme) on

The Brussels Diamond League pitted man versus machine in a 600m race on Friday.

Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkoech went up against a solar-powered car over a 1.5-lap race at the final stop on the Diamond League circuit. The Kenyan has a lifetime best of 1:15.87 over 600m but the solar car can reach speeds upwards of 110 km/h. The 600m is a rarely-run race but was a compromise in distance between the 400m and 800m.

RELATED: VIDEO: Kenyan 800m runner celebrates early, gets passed at the last second.

Because the solar-powered car is designed for long-distance travel, the acceleration is slow which gave Kipkoech a sizeable advantage over the first 400m. The Indupol One’s speed was too much for the 800m specialist and the car, driven by Bert Longin, passed the runner on the final stretch.

Indupul One finished in 1:13.11 to Kipkoech’s 1:16.70. The Kenyan looked to be in the clear with just over 200m to go but the solar-powered car was able to reach a high speed after more than a minute had passed. For perspective, the men’s 600m world record is 1:12.81, held by American Johnny Gray from 1986.


The photo finish is one that you will not see often on the track and field circuit.

The solar-powered car was designed by 21 students as part of the Punch Powertrain Solar Team. The 21-person team will race in the 2017 World Solar Challenge. The world challenge is a 3,000-kilometre race that finishes in southern Australia.