Latvala: Toyota's Fuji 24h hydrogen tech has WRC potential

Toyota World Rally Championship boss Jari-Matti Latvala believes hydrogen power could be an option for rallying to consider in the future as he prepares to tackle the Fuji 24 Hours this weekend.

Latvala: Toyota's Fuji 24h hydrogen tech has WRC potential
Listen to this article

Latvala is set to experience a hydrogen-powered race car for the first time when he gets behind the wheel of a Rookie Racing-run GR Corolla H2 Concept in Super Taikyu's flagship event.

The Finn’s unusual switch from rallying to circuit racing arrives following an invite from Toyota president Akio Toyoda, another member of the six-driver line-up for the hydrogen machine's second Fuji 24h outing.

The WRC has taken its first steps towards a more sustainable future with the introduction of the new-for-2022 Rally1 hybrid cars, powered by 100 percent sustainable fuel.

But the FIA is already urging the WRC to plan for its next set of regulations with several options in regards to vehicle propulsion on the table.

Explaining his motivation to race at Fuji, Latvala feels hydrogen power could provide a better solution for rallying than moving to full electric power.

“I was really honoured by the invitation because it it is an interesting thing to drive these hydrogen cars,” Latvala told Motorsport.com.

“I think in rallying, now we are in the hybrid mode, but in 10 years time we will need to find another solution.

“Hybrid is for this era but I think we need something new and I think hydrogen could be an option in the rally world because in rallying we can’t go full electric, it is impossible.

“And without the sound nobody will go to the forest or to the mountains to watch the cars, we need to have sound in rallying. In circuit racing it is not as important but in rallying we need it.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Photo by: Toyota Racing

As well as Toyoda (entered under his usual pseudonym of 'Morizo'), Latvala will share a cockpit this weekend with SUPER GT regular Hiroaki Ishiura, Masahiro Sasaki, Yasuhiro Ogura and Japanese rally champion Norihiko Katsuta (father of current Toyota WRC driver Takamoto).

This weekend will mark his first taste of circuit racing since contesting the 2010 Nurburgring 24 Hours, driving a Ford Focus RS.

“Twelve years ago when I was driving with Ford I did the Nurburgring 24 Hours race and that was really great experience and I really enjoyed it,” Latvala added.

“I said when I finished my rally career that I would like to come back. I’m not going back to the Nurburgring but I am going to Fuji so I’m excited about it.

“At least I have been to Fuji, so I know the track because we were there at the end of 2018 when the Supra was launched.

“We managed to test it [the Supra] on the track so at least I have a bit of a feeling as to what is coming up, but for sure it will be different.

“There is going to be a lot of cars on the track and very fast cars. I will have to be concentrating [all of the time] as some of the GT cars are really fast and they can be overtaking you at high speed, so I will be following them in my mirrors all the time.”

Latvala's Fuji 24h appearance means he is absent from this weekend’s WRC round in Sardinia. Toyota WRC sporting director Kaj Lindstrom is instead leading the team at the Italian gravel rally.

shares
comments

Related video

WRC teams make car modifications to combat cockpit temperatures

WRC drivers braced for "melting" Sardinia temperatures

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Prime
Prime
WRC
Rally Monte Carlo
Tom Howard

Delecour on starting a new chapter Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

Prime
Prime
WRC
Rally Monte Carlo
Tom Howard

How fired-up Ogier mastered Monte How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Prime
Prime
WRC
Tom Howard

How Lancia defeated Audi in 1983 How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

Prime
Prime
WRC
Tom Howard

Why M-Sport focused on WRC reunion Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

Prime
Prime
WRC
Tom Howard

Rovanpera's title rivals in 2023 The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Prime
Prime
WRC
Tom Howard

How Rovanpera can defend his title Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

Prime
Prime
WRC
Tom Howard

From F1 to WRC: Hyundai's new boss From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Prime
Prime
WRC
Tom Howard

The stillborn Toyota WRC car The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed