TOYOTATIMES

The Man Who Drives the Hydrogen Engine Car and Makes Morizo a Better Driver

TOYOTA NEWS 2021.11.26

The November 17 edition of Toyota Times Athletes Now featured a live studio appearance by racing driver Masahiro Sasaki. Introduced as “the man who makes Morizo a better driver,” Sasaki delved into the potential of the hydrogen-powered engine and his relationship with Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

The November 17 edition of Toyota Times Athletes Now featured a live studio appearance by racing driver Masahiro Sasaki. Introduced as “the man who makes Morizo a better driver,” Sasaki delved into the potential of the hydrogen-powered engine and his relationship with Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

When asked about the driver’s role in a car’s evolution, Sasaki’s answer reflected his unique position as both a Level 2 Automotive Technician and development driver for new models and tires. “It’s important that drivers share their impressions with engineers and mechanics so that they can make improvements where possible.”

He also touched on the future potential of hydrogen-powered engines, saying, “In terms of noise and vibration, hydrogen engine cars deliver the same impact, and the same excitement as conventional engines. The only thing you don’t get is the CO2. Electrification will probably be the way towards carbon neutrality, but the hydrogen-powered engine presents an opportunity for car lovers.”

As introduced at the outset, Sasaki plays a key role in improving the driving skills of Morizo, aka President Toyoda, who is also one of his endurance racing teammates.

Footage from the pair’s Super Taikyu race in Okayama showed the meticulous communication between Sasaki and Morizo, as they analyze graph data and compare notes immediately after every run.

“Seeing the data (numbers) makes things easier to visualize, rather than going by feeling,” noted Sasaki, explaining the data comparing the pair’s laps. “Not being a professional driver, it’s amazing that Morizo can put up this sort of data,” he continued with admiration, to which Morizo himself commented in the chat function: “You’re like a doctor explaining to a patient undergoing a medical exam.”

Sasaki also spoke about developing cars through motorsports, saying, “We receive input (information) from the car, process it in our minds, then the body converts that to output (commands) through the hands and feet. What we’re trying to do through racing is create a car that can respond accordingly. You need dialogue between drivers and cars.” He also gave his stamp of approval for the future of Toyota’s cars, noting that, as Akio becomes a more skilled master driver, his final checks “raise the bar quite high for production cars. This helps make Toyota cars not only safer and more reliable, but also more fun to drive.”

When asked about his goals as a racer and developer, Sasaki, who is also involved in GR86 sports car development, expressed his desire to “ensure that drivers can tell that these vehicles were made by people who are passionate about cars.” Sasaki’s involvement in motorsports makes that passion all the more evident. “Cars that respond more intuitively would make for safer driving, and a safe and secure world.”

Toyota Times Athletes Now streams live on YouTube every Wednesday at midday (in Japanese, later followed by a version with English subtitles).

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