Toyota Motor Corporation, always engaged in the study of alternative propulsions, announced that it has tested the GR Yaris – a special version of the Toyota GR Yaris, equipped with a hydrogen engine – in a demonstration race during the ninth round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Ypres, Belgium. The rally was the first opportunity for Toyota to test a vehicle with a hydrogen internal combustion engine under development on public roads outside of Japan.
At the wheel of the GR Yaris H2 was Toyota president Akio Toyoda, aka “Morizo”, flanked, as co-driver, by former Finnish driver and four-time WRC champion Juha Kankkunen, winner of a world title with Toyota.
The GR Yaris H2 participated in the Rally as a test car in Special Stage (SS) 11, during the second day (20 August) of the Ypres Rally, held from 19 to 21 August. The 15-kilometer SS 11 was drawn along extremely narrow country roads, between fields and houses, creating a demanding stage even for the professional drivers of the championship. The GR Yaris, as a test car, preceded the safety car used to check the safety of the route before the start of SS 11.
Although “Morizo” never drove on those roads, nor had he had the chance to examine them before starting his run, relying on Kankkunen’s guide he was able to successfully tackle extremely slippery and continuously different road surfaces, completing the course without inconvenience.
”Morizo” commented at the end of the race: “I am grateful to Juha for the courtesy in allowing me to drive. He supported me in sync with my driving style, making me feel at ease. The roads were difficult and their surfaces seemed to change every moment. A (Toyota) Mirai, a fuel cell vehicle, was also present at the event for a demonstration on the possibility of generating electric current, and I believe that, together with the driving test of a hydrogen-powered car, we were able to testify in Europe the potential of hydrogen as an option to achieve carbon neutrality.”
Kankkunen added: “Akio’s driving performance was fantastic. And the hydrogen engine has substantial torque, which makes it no different from a gasoline engine. Since they are CO2-neutral, I believe that hydrogen engines will become one of the options for achieving carbon neutrality not only in the world of motorsport, but also in the world of everyday cars.”