Hitting the Gas
Aston Martin Goes Racing With Hydrogen
By Damon Lavrinc
If you needed more proof that endurance racing, and not Formula Un, is where the real innovation lies, check this out: Aston Martin will field the first hydrogen-powered race car to compete in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
None other than company CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez flogged the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S prototype around the 'Ring to mark the first time a hydrogen-running, no pollution-emitting car lapped the 14-mile circuit known far and wide as The Green Hell. The boss' lap came before the Aston team and its partners at Alset Global ran a reconnaissance race at the four-hour ADAC ACAS H&R-Cup VLN series. The car finished the race with no technical issues.
"To have run full laps on hydrogen gas alone during the four-hour event is an exceptional 'first'," Bez said in a statement. "And I now hope that we can stabilize the system and further improve the Rapide S so we can complete the 24-hour race … with many zero emission laps."
The racer, based on the utterly gorgeous, if completely impractical, Rapide sedan, will be the first zero-emissions hydrogen vehicle to compete in an international endurance event.
Powering the Rapide is a prototype twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter V12 that can run on hydrogen, gasoline or a mixture of both. For this race, the Rapide will be topped up with 7.7 pounds of hydrogen after each stint. Naturally, safety is of the utmost importance in motorsport, so a set of "ultra-high strength carbon fiber tanks" will hold the combustible material, with a custom fuel rail and engine management system plumbing hydrogen into the snorting bent-12. All the hardware has been approved by the German motorsport authority.
David King, Aston's direction of special projects and the guiding hand behind the the hydrogen Rapide said, "This is the ultimate expression of our long term strategy of using the Nürburgring 24 hour race to publicly demonstrate the abilities of our cars and our people." The race takes place on May 19 and 20, with the Rapide running in the experimental E1-XP class.