Akio Toyoda, known as Morizo, took to the cab with four-time WRC champion, Juha Kankkunen as co-driver, seeing the first under-development Toyota hydrogen-engine vehicle hit public roads outside of Japan.
Taking to the course as a test car on Special Stage (SS) 11 on day two of the race (August 20), the GR Yaris H2 took on the 15km (9.3 miles) stage, renowned for its narrow farm roads, proving the case for hydrogen as a fuel for performance vehicles.
The test comes less than a year after Toyota began testing hydrogen combustion engines in race cars as a means to transition away from fossil fuel dependencies across its automotive industry.
Commenting on the drive Toyoda, said, “I am grateful to Juha for his courtesy in allowing me to drive. He guided me in sync with my driving, making me feel comfortable. The roads were tough―not only slippery but also narrow, and their surfaces seemed to change from moment to moment.
“They were like the roads used in Rally Japan, and it was a good chance to think about races with spectators in mind. We also had a (Toyota) Mirai (fuel cell electric vehicle) at the venue demonstrating external power supply, and I believe that, together with driving using a hydrogen engine, we were able to highlight in Europe the potential of hydrogen as an option for achieving carbon neutrality.”
Juha Kankkunen, added, “Akio’s driving was great. And the hydrogen engine put out solid torque, making it no different from a gasoline engine. Because they emit zero carbon dioxide, I believe hydrogen engines will become one of the options for achieving carbon neutrality not only in the world of motorsports but also in the world of everyday cars.”
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