'Morizo' Puts Hydrogen-Engine GR Yaris Through Its Paces on Belgian Roads
Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announced today that it put its GR Yaris H2―a special hydrogen-engine version of the Toyota GR Yaris―through its paces in a demonstration run during the ninth round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Ypres. The rally was the first time for Toyota to drive an under-development hydrogen-engine vehicle on public roads outside Japan.
Behind the wheel of the GR Yaris H2 was Toyota President Akio Toyoda, a.k.a. "Morizo". Joining him as co-driver* was former Finnish driver and four-time WRC champion Juha Kankkunen, who once won a world title with Toyota.
The GR Yaris H2 took to the rally course as a test car in Special Stage (SS) 11 on the second day (August 20) of the August 19-21 Ypres Rally Belgium. The 15-kilometer SS 11 was charted along extremely narrow farm roads that ran along fields and between houses, making for a stage that was challenging even for professional championship rallyists. The GR Yaris served as a test car and ran ahead of a safety car sent out to confirm stage safety before the start of SS 11.
Even though Morizo had never driven on those roads nor had a chance to survey them before he began his run, by relying on Kankkunen's guidance, he was able to interact with extremely slippery and constantly changing road surfaces to complete the course without incident.
Morizo's post-run comments
I am grateful to Juha for his courtesy in allowing me to drive. He guided me in sync with my driving, making me feel comfortable. The roads were tough―not only slippery but also narrow, and their surfaces seemed to change from moment to moment. They were like the roads used in Rally Japan, and it was a good chance to think about races with spectators in mind. We also had a (Toyota) Mirai (fuel cell electric vehicle) at the venue demonstrating external power supply, and I believe that, together with driving using a hydrogen engine, we were able to highlight in Europe the potential of hydrogen as an option for achieving carbon neutrality.
Akio's driving was great. And the hydrogen engine put out solid torque, making it no different from a gasoline engine. Because they emit zero CO2, I believe hydrogen engines will become one of the options for achieving carbon neutrality not only in the world of motorsports but also in the world of everyday cars.
*GR Yaris H2 driver on other days of the rally