A special Toyota Corolla Sport hatchback, powered by Toyota’s new hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine, took to the track for the first time today at Fuji Speedway as part of pre-event testing for the upcoming Super Taikyu Fuji Super TEC 24 Hour Race on 22-23 May.
Fans that attended the test at Fuji were very eager to see – and to hear – the hydrogen-engine Corolla in action from the first of four sessions on the day, including a night-time practice to cap the on-track activities.
The hydrogen-engine Corolla will be entered by ROOKIE Racing, carrying the number 32 plate over from their ST-2 class Toyota GR Yaris to this new vehicle, which will take part in the Fuji 24 Hours as an ST-Q class vehicle – a new class created this year by the Super Taikyu Organisation (STO) for non-homologated special vehicles.
The hydrogen-powered engine is sourced from the GR Yaris, a 1.6 litre, turbocharged 3-cylinder engine – but the Corolla Sport was used as the base model in order to house the car’s four hydrogen tanks and piping, derived from the technology used in the Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle.
With safety in mind, Toyota have made additional modifications under the surface. The four 70MPa hydrogen tanks will be stored in carbon fibre carriers, forward from the centre of the rear axle and separate from the drivers’ compartment. Carbon fibre crash structures have also been placed in the rear of the cabin behind the cockpit. An extra air outlet has been installed on the roof to prevent the hydrogen from reaching its flash point, and the front and rear wheel arches have been extended as well.
Toyota factory drivers Hiroaki Ishiura and Masahiro Sasaki handled test driving duties today. Giving his impressions of the engine, Ishiura told Toyota Times: “It’s not as different (from normal gasoline-powered vehicles) as I had expected. It feels like a normal engine. (If I’m not told anything) I’d probably think that this is one normal engine.”
The car’s expected range is roughly 50 kilometres, meaning the car can complete 10 laps around Fuji before refuelling. The car’s fastest lap during the test was a time of 2’04.301.
Sasaki, Ishiura, Takuto Iguchi, and Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio “Morizo” Toyoda are expected to form at least part of the #32 Corolla’s driver lineup for Fuji, with the announcement of the event’s entry list expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
Feature image courtesy of Fuji Speedway
Videos courtesy of Toyota Times and Nenkatsu