Toyota is continuing the development of alternative fuels in motorsports, participating in all rounds of the Japanese Super Taikyu Series 2022 with a hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla and a GR86 using carbon-neutral fuel. Both vehicles raced in the first round of the ENEOS Super Taikyu Series 2022 Powered by Hankook in the Suzuka 5-Hour Endurance race last weekend, with the Toyota GR86 CNF Concept finishing in second place, while a regular gasoline-powered GR86 will join them from the next round.
The Corolla racecar from team ROOKIE Racing with the experimental hydrogen engine comes back for all seven rounds of this season after competing in four rounds of last year’s Super Taikyu Series. Highlighting the importance of engineering development in motorsports, Toyota said that between May and November 2021, the engine performance was improved “to levels comparable to gasoline engines”. Power output was increased by 24 percent and torque by 33 percent, although we don’t have the actual figures.
Despite the improvements, Toyota admits that cruising range and refueling time are still “major issues” and set the goal of addressing them throughout the 2022 season. The cruising range has already been improved by 20 percent since the previous race by precisely controlling fuel injection and using hydrogen in a more efficient way. Another idea that is being explored is converting the used gaseous hydrogen back into liquid hydrogen through a new type of technology. In terms of refueling time, it has been decreased from two minutes to one and a half minutes, thanks to “high flow filling” and the ability to fill up the tanks from both sides of the car.
This year marks the debut of the Toyota GR86 CNF Concept with the colors of ROOKIE Racing, which is using a carbon-neutral fuel as a sister model to the Subaru BRZ CNF Concept also competing in the ST-Q class. Under the bonnet, there is a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine developed from the GR Yaris’ 1.6-liter unit, with modifications in order to run in a new type of carbon-neutral fuel.
While there are still carbon dioxide emissions produced during combustion, those are offset by the carbon dioxide used in the fuel mix, resulting in “plus/minus zero emissions”. The good thing about the carbon-neutral fuel is that it is compatible with the existing infrastructure and vehicle technology serving as a potential alternative to electrification.
Toyota and Subaru will use motorsports to discover issues, make improvements and “explore the possibility of future practical applications” for the carbon-neutral fuel. They will also use the expertise gained in the evolution of the road-going Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ. Additionally, Toyota (with the GR86 CNF Concept), Subaru (with the BRZ CNF Concept), and Mazda (with a biodiesel-powered Demio) will exchange information on the use of synthetic fuels while competing against each other during the races.
Starting from the next round, the FUJI SUPER TEC 24-Hour Race, Toyota will add a third vehicle into its race car fleet, this time with TOM’S SPIRIT team colors. It will be a Toyota GR86 running on regular gasoline which will race in the ST-4 class. Being close with the road-going GR86, the race car will help in the development of production models and parts.