Toyota’s commitment to hydrogen is admirable, if not apparently ever-lasting. The team competed again in the 2022 Fuji Super TEC 24 Hour Race held June 3-5 in Japan with a hydrogen-powered Corolla, one year after it debuted in the same race. Good news: The #32 ORC ROOKIE Racing Corolla H2 Concept completed 478 laps, which is 120 more than the car ran in the same race last year. Bad news: The hydrogen-powered racing Corolla finished last among classified runners.
According to DailySportsCar.com, the Toyota team was sidelined for roughly two hours after a crash on the track. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda was the team’s B driver and clocked a fast lap of 2:02.25—competitive with other class vehicles, if not its actual ST-Q class that was comprised of alternate-fuel vehicles. The hydrogen-powered Toyota competed against natural gas-powered Nissan Z, Toyota GR86, and Subaru BRZ cars, which fared slightly better.
That could be because the hydrogen race car pitted 41 times throughout the race to replenish its hydrogen tanks, a process that took roughly seven minutes last year—though it's still unclear if that process was improved this year. This roughly translates into five hours in the pits just for fuel alone, which was stored last year at a far corner of the track for safety reasons. That, combined with a two-hour stop to repair the damage, means that the hydrogen-powered car spent roughly one-third of the race in the pits and not on the track.
Nonetheless, Toyota sounds interested in making hydrogen power work for racing applications and more. The automaker says the energy density of hydrogen is higher than gasoline, which could be promising for more teams. Along with CNF-powered cars and hydrogen power, Toyota and other Japanese automakers are pressing to find carbon-neutral options for racing in the future.
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