Hydrogen prototype for Dakar Rally unveiled

Hydrogen Sector 11.01.22
Written by: HYCAP

Hydrogen has taken another step into the world of elite motorsport with the unveiling of the first Dakar Rally vehicle to be powered by the clean fuel.

Cars and trucks competing in the world-famous event will be required to use alternative fuels from 2024, with bikes, quads and lightweight vehicles following suit from 2030.

Dakar Rally veteran Guerlain Chicherit will take the wheel of the car which is being entered by GCK Motorsport in collaboration with German engineering company FEV.

Green Corp Konnection (GCK) was founded by Chicherit and industrialist Eric Boudot in 2020 with the aim of developing technologies for use in motor sport and consumer mobility. It has three divisions: Technology and Industry; Energy; and Motorsport.

“We are very proud to be presenting the first ever hydrogen cross-country competition car with an integrated fuel cell,” said Boudot, CEO of Green Corp Konnection and GCK Motorsport. “For Green Corp Konnection, motorsport represents a unique innovation laboratory to develop technological solutions that we will then be able to offer to clients through our industrial activities.”

The car weighs 2,300 kg and carries 30 kg of hydrogen in 4 certified tanks, allowing it to race a 250 km rally stage. The 2-gear electric motor will produce a maximum power output of 400 hp in line with FIA regulations and will have a top speed of 180 km/h (111.8 mph).

Testing on “real cross-country conditions” will begin in the second half of 2022 before taking part in selected stages of the 2023 Dakar Rally.

“I think if the ASO didn’t introduce these new regulations, the sport would be in some risk for the future, because manufacturers don’t want to support motorsport programs which are not green orientated,” said Chicherit, who has won three Dakar stages and finished fifth overall in 2010.

“Biofuel is the first step, the intermediate technology, and then in two- or three-years’ time, hydrogen will take over,” he said.

Hydrogen’s entry into the Dakar Rally follows the launch in 2021 of Extreme E, featuring the electric off-road SUV Spark Odyssey 21, which is refuelled using hydrogen fuel-cell generators developed by UK-based AFC Energy.

In December 2021, Formula E, the all-electric rival to Formula 1, said it’s considering a shift to hydrogen fuel cells from batteries for its fourth-generation cars from 2027. The HYRAZE League – a hydrogen sportscar series – is expected to launch in 2023 and will also use fuel cells.

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