On June 10th (local time), various events are taking place at the Sarthe circuit before the final of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Among them, the demonstration run of the No. 32 Hydrogen GR Corolla by Morizo, the chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation Akio Toyoda, attracted a lot of attention.
In Japan, it competes in the Super Taikyu ST-Q class, and is a car that symbolizes Toyota’s multi-pathway to carbon neutrality. Two years ago in April, Akio Toyoda (then president) and Tsuneharu Sato (then current president) of the GR Company suddenly announced that Toyota would enter the race with a hydrogen combustion engine.
Hydrogen basically produces only water (steam) after combustion, so it has the potential to create the ultimate clean engine. A technology that was plagued by various problems and abandoned its development. Two years ago, I announced that I would not only run it, but also compete at racing speed for 24 hours, so it was an announcement that even those who were familiar with cars could not believe it. Of course, the reporter was one of them, and I was surprised when the hydrogen Corolla was running at Fuji at racing speed during the test run. It was such a surprise that I went to the pit and smelled the exhaust gas from the exhaust pipe, but it was not the sweet smell (aromatic type) peculiar to gasoline, but fluffy steam. (Actually, the NOx problem is about to be solved, and the lubricating oil seems to be burning).
Again, Toyota brought the Hydrogen GR Corolla, which runs at racing speed while burning hydrogen, to Le Mans and performed a full-course demo run at the Sarthe Circuit.
The driver was Akio Toyoda, chairman of the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest, Automobile Club of the West of France), which hosts Le Mans, and who took the podium at the press conference (in other words, the most important conference at Le Mans). At the press conference, when ACO President Pierre Fillon asked, “Who is your driver?” he replied, “It’s me.”
This hydrogen GR Corolla is not the liquid hydrogen GR Corolla (liquid water Corolla) that is currently competing in Japan, but a hydrogen GR Corolla that has high-pressure hydrogen of 70 MPa. As far as the coloring etc. are concerned, it will be the Thai specification that appeared in the 25-hour race in Thailand in December 2022.
The Hydrogen GR Corolla finished the full-course demo run without incident, and Morizo talked with the staff with a satisfied expression. He was interviewed by Le Mans official media.
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