GCK Motorsport has unveiled a hydrogen-powered rally car which it intends to debut in the 2024 Paris-Dakar rally.
Before the new car, GCK e-Blast H2, makes its expected Dakar debut in 2024, GCK will continue to compete with the Thunder DKR driven by Guerlain Chicherit – which is being run on biofuel starting this year – to gather additional data.
The new vehicle has been developed in collaboration with German company FEV and features a fuel cell containing 20kg of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar, capable of delivering 200kW.
In addition, the hydrogen cell is directly connected to a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery that generates 50kWh.
GCK said its two-gear electric motor has been built to reach 320kW of energy, the equivalent of 430 horsepower.
The company claimed it has found a solution to the usual lag associated with hydrogen systems: using the battery as a buffer to compensate for the time it takes for the hydrogen cell to transmit power to the motor.
“The hydrogen cell is a component that works at a constant level, because you have a lag when you accelerate and a lag when you stop accelerating,” Sebastian Lesonneur, GCK Motorsport’s team manager for the rally-raid programme, explained.
Preliminary calculations suggest that the car would be capable of covering 250km at race pace, so GCK is hoping that the regulations will be adapted to allow it to refuel it in the same time duration as the T3 and T4 vehicles currently do (20 minutes).
GCK Motorsport’s plan for the future is to complete several bench tests in February to define the H2 capacity and the final location of the hydrogen fuel cell before rolling out its prototype. Then this summer it will to be able to complete the first tests in real desert conditions and optimise the powertrain with a view to completing some stages in Dakar next year.
“We are very proud to be presenting the first ever hydrogen cross-country competition car with an integrated fuel cell,” added Eric Boudot, CEO of Green Corp Konnection and GCK Motorsport.
“For Green Corp Konnection, motorsport represents a unique innovation laboratory to develop technological solutions that we will then be able to offer to clients through our industrial activities. We are incredibly excited to be involved in the #DakarFuture movement and to create more milestones on the road to greener mobility solutions.”
The development of the new hydrogen powered car comes amidst continuing uncertainties over the safety of the event, following an explosion that went off under a French vehicle in Saudi Arabia last week, which may have been a terrorist attack, according to France’s foreign minister.