After Fuji, Partnerships Begin to Spread Beyond Super Taikyu


This season, the number of like-minded companies working to create a carbon-neutral society continued to grow through Super Taikyu. We caught up with some of those enjoying themselves while earnestly pursuing carbon neutrality.

The final round of the 2023 Super Taikyu Series wrapped up on November 12 at Fuji International Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture.

At a roundtable discussion to recap the season, GR Company President Tomoya Takahashi started by thanking all those involved, from the Super Taikyu Organization (STO) that runs the series to the entrants, mechanics, engineers, drivers, and the other manufacturers who make up the Waigaya Club. He continued:

President Takahashi

I believe this has been a year of truly great progress. I see it as the result of the entire team working together as Morizo envisioned, acting with purposeful passion.

As you can tell by looking around the event space, the number of like-minded partners is really growing.

Indeed, the season’s final round showcased all the various efforts Toyota’s peers are pursuing as they seek to create a carbon-neutral society.

Friendly competition

Super Taikyu’s ST-Q class is where manufacturers race vehicles currently under development. For these carmakers, the category serves as a testing ground for new technologies—hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and biofuels—that expand the options for achieving a carbon-neutral society.

ST-Q class cars

The five companies competing in this class have set up a forum for exchanging information about their efforts, dubbed the Super Taikyu Waigaya Club.

Since the Fuji 24-hour race in this season’s second round, the ST-Q class cars from these five teams have all sported stickers with the word 共挑 (kyocho), to express their “co-challenge” in pursuing carbon neutrality.

Then, at the final race, these same companies jointly organized the first-ever “Co-Challenge Pit Tour” to spread the word about ST-Q.

Tour participants gathered at a stage in the venue’s event space, where each company introduced their team and the challenges they have undertaken.

Super Taikyu Organization CEO Harumi Kuwayama also took part in the discussion, sharing her hopes for the ST-Q class.

STO CEO Kuwayama

Without a doubt, the ST-Q class and the Waigaya Club are about creating the future.

I’m sure you are all excited to see the day when these efforts are translated into production cars.

We sincerely hope you will continue supporting the teams while envisioning what the future holds for cars and motorsports.

And the key for us in Super Taikyu is that, regardless of how far we compete with and push each other, we are all partners working together.

After the on-stage conversation, the lucky attendees whose names had been drawn in advance headed out for a tour of the team pits.

Those who toured the ROOKIE Racing pits were shown around normally off-limits areas, where they chatted directly with racing drivers and crews and had the thrill of seeing the #28 car up close.

Dakar Rally—another chance to build partnerships

Together with Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, and Yamaha, Toyota is part of the Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology (HySE) research group.

For the final Super Taikyu round, they brought in the HySE-X1, which had previously been exhibited as part of the motorsports program booth at the JAPAN MOBILITY SHOW 2023. Alongside a display in the event space, the group held a roundtable to explain the vehicle’s entry into Dakar 2024.

HySE Chairman Kenji Komatsu

At the Super Taikyu Okayama event in November 2021, with the support of Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki, we made the announcement (of a new collaboration toward carbon neutrality).

Then, at Motegi in September 2022, we unveiled an off-road buggy for researching hydrogen engines.

In May of this year, we held a press conference after receiving approval from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). This was followed by the launch of our website, and today, we are announcing our entry into Dakar.

Keita Nakanishi, who is overseeing the Dakar attempt, explained the purpose of joining the rally.

Dakar Project Leader Nakanishi

Our aims in entering Dakar are two-fold. Firstly, we want to use the harsh environmental conditions to identify issues and accelerate development towards HySE’s goal of establishing baseline hydrogen technologies.

Second, by promoting HySE's presence and initiatives on the global stage, we hope to encourage companies that embrace our vision to get involved.

Our entry in Dakar will be under a new category to be created in January 2024. We envision this as a mobile laboratory for developing reliability.

HySE will take part in the Dakar Future Mission 1000, a new category that will kick off in January 2024.

As the name implies, competitors must cover roughly 100 kilometers per day, totaling 1,000 km over 10 days. Although the start will differ from the regular race, the finish line is the same.

Entry into this category is limited to sustainable alternative energy vehicles such as battery EVs, hydrogen-fueled cars, and hybrids. In the hydrogen category, two other cars are expected to participate alongside HySE.

Although it will involve points and other racing elements, the Dakar Future Mission 1000 is set up as a challenge rather than a race.

During the Q&A session, Chairman Komatsu was asked what kind of companies he expects to join these efforts.

Chairman Komatsu

To be honest, we don’t have any specific expectations for potential partners.

In terms of finding uses for hydrogen as a future energy source, these companies may even come from areas we have not envisioned. In general, our policy is to keep the door open and welcoming to everyone and then figure out how each can contribute when that opportunity arises

The Dakar Rally is itself a way for us to identify our research themes. That’s why, more than seeking others to join the rally, we are motivated to go to Dakar to spread our message globally and encourage various companies to get involved.

He says HySE has already received inquiries from multiple companies.

Chairman Komatsu

While I can’t provide details yet, we have already received several inquiries from a wide range of companies, both domestic and Western firms.

These are engineering companies involved in real manufacturing, which I think makes them a good fit given our R&D focus.

The roundtable participants were also asked why HySE is moving into racing without sufficient development time. Nakanishi responded.

Dakar Project Leader Nakanishi

As far as the schedule goes, initially, I also didn’t think we would be going to Dakar next year, but since we have people with that experience (of agile development through Super Taikyu), the dates were locked in before we figured out whether it was actually possible (laughs).