Toyota “Very Happy” Alpine also supports liquid hydrogen – Sportscar365

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

Toyota Gazoo Racing team director Rob Leupen has welcomed Alpine’s support for a liquid hydrogen-based solution to the hydrogen regulations due to be introduced at the 2027 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alpine gave the clearest indication yet of its intentions to use the new technology to attack the centerpiece of the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship earlier this month, when it unveiled the hydrogen-powered Alpenglow concept car at Spa.

It follows Toyota’s unveiling of the GR H2 Racing Concept at Le Mans last year, with the Japanese brand pioneering the use of hydrogen combustion with its Corolla program in Japan’s Super Taikyu series and the Fuji 24 Hours since 2021.

While neither Toyota nor Alpine have yet made a firm commitment to building a hydrogen-powered car for the Le Mans race, Leupen believes Alpine’s choice of liquid hydrogen is a boost to the Japanese brand’s ambitions .

“It’s good, it’s the progression you would like to see,” said Leupen. “Toyota explained their interest in hydrogen in this environment last year [WEC]and now we can say that Alpine shows the same.

“It is a powertrain concept with a future. We are very happy that we are not the only ones pushing this.

“There always has to be someone who kicks off. Now we have Alpine potential second, and maybe more to come.”

While the Alpenglow Hy4, unveiled ahead of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, is powered by gaseous hydrogen, VP Alpine Motorsports Bruno Famin confirmed that a liquid hydrogen version of the car is already in development.

He called the use of hydrogen combustion technology a “vpromising solution for sports car racing,” while praising the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for specifying a clear timeline for its introduction at Le Mans.

“We keep almost everything we love about combustion engines, but with virtually no emissions,” says Famin of hydrogen combustion technology.

“We will have different kinds of challenges with this car. One of them is to get it working, to make it reliable. Of course we will have problems, but I am confident that we will find a solution for every single problem [we encounter].”

Alpine Racing Vehicles director Francois Champod also shed light on why the brand chose to pursue hydrogen combustion over fuel cell technology, which was considered by the ACO to form the basis of the hydrogen rules when they were first announced.

“We believe that ICE is interesting for these types of applications, with very high loads,” says Champod. “The power-to-weight ratio is very good and the cooling requirements are less because the heat is emitted through the exhaust.

“From an environmental point of view it is quite attractive: no soot, no CO2. And of course there is the sound, which we as car enthusiasts love.”

Leupen skeptical about existing hydrogen timeline

Although the hydrogen rules are officially on track to be introduced in 2027, Leupen doubts that Toyota will be ready in time to field a car at Le Mans in three years’ time, as no specific regulations have yet been published.

In addition to the rules, he also stressed the need to make certain decisions regarding preparing the necessary infrastructure for hydrogen cars to race at venues such as the Circuit de la Sarthe.

“A lot still needs to be done,” said Leupen. “The regulations need to be defined.

“When you see what hydrogen needs from the infrastructure, what it needs to function… iIf you say, ‘Let’s put a hydrogen generator at Le Mans,’ maybe everyone will back off, or the fire brigade will say it’s not possible, or [they ask], ‘Can you put it 100 meters away?’ No.

“So I think it’s still a long way off. WYou can’t race without the infrastructure.

“It all has to come together. We need regulations to build the car, but as far as I was informed today, we don’t have them.”

When asked whether he felt that 2027 was no longer a feasible target for the introduction of the new rules, Leupen replied: “If we are there, and if we know when we will be there, we can’t say until we have some rules.

“The engineers are currently investigating many options and possibilities, but I have not seen any rules yet.”

Jamie Klein is the Asian editor of Sportscar365. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the and Autosport titles, covers the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among others.

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