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Latvala gets second Fuji 24h outing in hydrogen-powered Toyota

Toyota WRC team boss Jari-Matti Latvala will return to the Fuji 24 Hours this year to race the Japanese marque’s hydrogen-powered Corolla racer for a second time.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Hiroaki Ishiura, #32 ORC ROOKIE GR Corolla H2 concept

Latvala was part of the crew that campaigned the Rookie Racing-run Toyota GR Corolla H2 Concept in the ST-Q class in last year’s Super Taikyu blue riband event.

Now the Finnish driver has been confirmed for a second outing in the innovative car alongside SUPER GT regular Hiroaki Ishiura, Masahiro Sasaki, Yasuhiro Ogawa and former Toyota president Akio Toyoda, racing under his usual pseudonym of ‘Morizo’.

The entry list released by Super Taikyu appears to confirm that the liquid hydrogen-powered Corolla will return to competition at Fuji after skipping the opening round of the season at Suzuka in March due to a testing fire.

Switching to liquid hydrogen promises to both increase the car’s cruising range and do away with the need for the enormous refuelling stations seen in the 2021 and ‘22 races, when it was powered by compressed hydrogen gas.

 

Toyota’s hydrogen Corolla is entered by Rookie alongside a carbon-neutral powered GR86 as per last year, with SUPER GT and Super Formula racers Kazuya Oshima, Yuhi Sekiguchi and Kenta Yamashita featuring in the line-up for that car in addition to Toyoda’s son Daisuke.

The six-car ST-Q class for cars not conforming to any specific technical regulations is made up by a CNF-powered Subaru BRZ, a biofuel-powered Mazda 3, a Nissan Z Racing Concept run by the works NISMO team and a CNF-powered Honda Civic Type R from Team HRC.

Only five cars will partake in the top ST-X class for FIA GT3 cars, with 5Zigen (Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3), TKRI (Mercedes-AMG GT3) and D’station Racing (Aston Martin Vantage GT3) all missing from the full-season entry list.

That leaves defending champion outfit Helm Motorsports - which has announced Jann Mardenborough as part of its line-up - fending off opposition from fellow Nissan squad GTNET Motor Sports, Rookie Racing (Mercedes), apr (Lexus RC F GT3) and KCMG (Honda NSX GT3), which has added Edoardo Liberati and Josh Burdon to its regular driver roster.

The ST-X class for GT4 cars has attracted 10 entries, headlined by Team Impul’s Nissan Z GT4 that features Toyota man Kazuki Nakajima in the line-up alongside Kazuki Hoshino and Kazuki Hiramine, who races for the squad in SUPER GT.

Current TOM’S racer Giuliano Alesi will be in action for the Ebi Waimarama team in a Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, which he will share with Japanese racing legend Satoshi Motoyama and Nissan man Katsumasa Chiyo, while SUPER GT alumnus Sean Walkinshaw will be driving for his regular Hitotsuyama team in an Audi R8 LMS GT4.

Also appearing on the ST-X entry is Honda works driver Tadasuke Makino, who joins the Techno First Audi line-up.

Elsewhere, D'station WEC regular Casper Stevenson joins the team's ST-1 class entry, sharing a Vantage GT8R with another ex-SUPER GT racer in the form of Aussie Jake Parsons.

Defending Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri is the star attraction in the ST-2 class as part of the Honda R&D Challenge line-up in a conventionally-powered Civic Type R.

A total of 52 cars are set to take part in the Fuji 24 Hours on May 27-28, with the race marking the first for the Super Taikyu field on Bridgestone tyres following the withdrawal of previous supplier Hankook due to a recent plant fire.

 

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