ACO, the organizing body behind the 24 Hours of Le Mans, announced in March that hydrogen-powered cars would be eligible for the race come 2026. That would include hydrogen combustion engines like the concept H2-powered Lexus V8 that Toyota and Yamaha showed in 2022, and fuel cell vehicles. Planning for the doors to open in three years, Toyota used this year’s Le Mans weekend to show the Gazoo Racing GR H2 Racing Concept. This one’s got a hydrogen combustion engine, Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda saying, “The sound, the torque, the dynamics, it’s all there.”
The automaker didn’t provide any information on the mechanicals underneath the black beauty, only the dimensions. The GR H2 Racing Concept is 200.8 inches long and 80.7 inches wide. That’s seven inches longer and two inches wider than the GR010 Hybrid competing in WEC this year. It’s also just outside the maximum dimensions allowed for the current Le Mans Hypercar class by 3.9 inches in length and two inches in width.
Toyota’s been running a hydrogen-engined Corolla in Japan’s Super Taikyu series for two years. To listen to it around the track, you’d never know there wasn’t gasoline involved. Whenever we get a clip of the GR H2 Racing Concept on track, it could sound like the good old days.
Gazoo Racing wasn’t the only competitor in Le Mans’ H2 Village with a debut. French car company Ligier got together with Bosch to develop the JS2 RH2, a hydrogen-engined relative of Ligier’s JS2 R racer. We say “relative” because the vehicle structure’s changed for the RH2. The JS2 R is built on a tubular spaceframe and powered by a 3.7-liter Ford V6 gas engine making 350 horsepower. The JS2 RH2 is built on a carbon monocoque and powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 derived from a Bosch unit and running hydrogen, producing 563 hp. It weighs 3,197 pounds, which is 871 pounds more than the standard JS2 R. Using three 2.1-kg hydrogen tanks, Ligier and Bosch say it can run for 35 to 40 minutes around Le Mans before needing a refill. The race vehicles running this weekend will usually do stints of about 45 to 50 minutes.
Ligier and Bosch call the JS2 RH2 a technology demonstrator only, with no plans to race in the near-term. Bosch CEO Dr. Johannes-Joerg Rueger pointed to the future, saying, “One day there will be a single solution to hydrogen. We want to put ourselves at the forefront of this technology.”