Endurance racing is perhaps one of the toughest proving grounds for any car – ask Toyota, they’ll know. But they prove instrumental in advancing technologies, more so when it comes to new forms of propulsion like hydrogen and synthetic, carbon neutral (CN) fuel.
Toyota will be testing both out by participating in this weekend’s (17- to 18-December 2022) 25-hour Idemitsu 1500 Super Endurance race at Chang International Circuit, Buriram, Thailand.
Through Rookie Racing, they will field their ORC Rookie H2 Concept (hydrogen-fuelled, Division 2, race number 232) and the ORC Rookie CNF Concept (carbon-neutral fuel, Division 3, race number 328).
In addition, one of Toyota Gazoo Racing Thailand’s race cars will also be using carbon-neutral fuel.
The ORC Rookie GR86 CNF Concept
It’s the first time these cars race outside of Japan. Previously, the hydrogen-burning Corolla and synthetic-fuelled GR86 participated in Japan’s Super Taikyu series, successfully completing every race.
Competing in the ST-Q category – for cars not conforming to any specific technical regulations – the best results of both these cars have been sixth and fourth respectively.
Still, the GR Corolla’s last outing in June 2022 was measures better than its debut; completing 478 laps over 358 in its inaugural race in 2021.
Refueling is unconventional too
For this weekend however, their participation will only be in the first and last few hours of the race, more like a demo run to further develop the car in environments outside of Japan in the aim to accelerate adoption of alternative fuels.
Above all, the bigger picture of Toyota’s efforts here is to increase carbon neutral options in Asia through motorsports. Think of the races to be a demonstration of sorts; a way to approach the challenge of expanding fuel options using traditonal internal combustion engines, as well as a proving ground to accelerate efforts in producing, transporting, and using hydrogen.
Beyond the track, Toyota also demonstrated a similar, hydrogen-powered GR Yaris H2 during the ninth round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Ypres in August and the 13th round of the WRC Rally Japan in November.
Further to that, Toyota UK is also developing a hydrogen fuel-cell (FCEV) Hilux.