Toyota eyes liquid hydrogen move after second Fuji 24h finish
Toyota has revealed ambitions to switch to liquid hydrogen for its developmental Corolla racer after securing another finish with the car in its second outing in the Fuji 24 Hours last weekend.
The Rookie Racing-entered #32 GR Corolla H2 Concept completed 478 laps in the Super Taikyu blue riband race at an average speed of 90.687km/h - a major improvement on its debut last year, when the car clocked 358 laps with an average speed of 67.963km/h.
That put the machine sixth of the six finishers in the ST-Q class for cars not conforming to any specific technical regulations, with the overall winning Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 completing 760 laps.
Sharing driving duties aboard the hydrogen Corolla were Toyota president Akio Toyota (competing as 'Morizo'), SUPER GT racer Hiroaki Ishiura, Masahiro Sasaki, Yasuhiro Ogura and two late additions to the Rookie Racing squad, Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala and domestic rallying star Norihiko Katsuta.
Latvala poses at a press conference with Rookie Racing's other drivers, including Toyota president Akio Toyoda
Photo by: 三橋仁明/N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY
Sasaki set the car's best qualifying lap of 1m58.867s, around 18 seconds off the fastest ST-X (FIA GT3) runners, as well as the best race lap of 1m59.876s, an improvement of around five seconds compared to last year.
Latvala meanwhile was at the wheel for 58 laps, the fastest of which was a 2m01.758s, in his first circuit racing outing in 12 years.
Toyota claimed ahead of the race that compared to the car's debut, the 1.6-litre turbo engine taken from the GR Yaris produced 20 percent more power and 30 percent more torque this time around, while the cruising range had been improved by approximately 20 percent.
This was borne out by the fact the Corolla made 41 trips to the pits (including one to serve a 60-second penalty for contact) during the race for an average of 11.7 laps per stint, compared to 10.2 laps in 2021.
Toyota also revealed plans to switch from using compressed hydrogen gas to liquid hydrogen for future Super Taikyu races, a move that would approximately double the Corolla's range, while the hydrogen refuelling station (pictured here in the Suzuka season opener) would be reduced to a quarter of the size.
Hydrogen refuelling station
Photo by: Kazuya Minakoshi
However, this would involve the logistical challenge of hydrogen having to be stored at approximately -253 degrees Celsius.
Toyota's other ST-Q class entry, a Toyota GR86 running on carbon-neutral fuel, finished fourth in class with Naoya Gamou, Daisuke Toyoda (son of Akio), Ryuta Ukai and Toyota SUPER GT racers Kazuya Oshima and Yuhi Sekiguchi completing a total of 603 laps.
The car's fastest qualifying lap was a 1m55.236s, comparable to the slowest cars in the ST-2 division.
Nissan's pair of Z Racing Concept cars experienced mixed fortunes, finishing second and fifth in class.
The #244 Max Racing-run car of Tora Tanaka, Tetsuya Tanaka, Atsushi Miyake, Mitsunori Takaboshi and Hironobu Yasuda enjoyed a smooth run with 707 laps complete, good for 10th overall.
NISMO's #230 car of Tsugio Matsuda, Ronnie Quintarelli, Kohei Hirate and Kazuki Hoshino, which was revealed to be running on carbon-neutral fuel pre-race, endured a much more troubled run with only 502 laps complete, second to last of the classified finishers (ahead of only the hydrogen Toyota).
Subaru's carbon-neutral BRZ was third in ST-Q with 624 laps completed, while the biofuel-powered Mazda 2 was the class's only non-finisher, albeit covering more distance than the hydrogen Toyota at 487 laps.
Overall honours went to Helm Motorsports, whose #62 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 was piloted by SUPER GT racing brothers Yuya and Reiji Hiraki, Hong Kong driver Shaun Thong and gentleman racer Yutaka Toriba.
#62 HELM MOTORSPORTS GTR GT3
Photo by: Fuji Speedway
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