Toyota conducted a demonstration run of the GR Yaris H2 equipped with an under-development hydrogen-powered engine during the ninth round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) held in Belgium from August 19 to 21.
The GR Yaris H2 ran the same course used by WRC drivers before the race, making it the first hydrogen-engine car to run on a public road.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda, aka Morizo, drove the vehicle on August 20 and joining him as a co-driver was four-time WRC champion Juha Kankkunen. On the 21st, the pair swapped seats, with Kankkunen driving and Morizo playing the co-driver role.
Demonstrating the hydrogen-powered engine in Europe—the birthplace of automobile culture—holds a significant meaning for Toyota as the company pursues multi-path solutions for a carbon neutral society.
The demonstration became a hot topic among the automotive media; DirtFish, a US-based media outlet specializing in rally racing, posted videos of interviews with those involved, including Morizo, Kankkunen, and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala.
One of the videos starts with an on-the-spot interview with Morizo as he got out of the passenger seat after the demonstration run on the 21st. The reporter’s first question to Morizo was: “I saw a big smile on your face. What was it like in the car with Kankkunen?” Please watch the video here to learn what he had to say.
Another video by DirtFish features the antics of the drivers and Morizo, including behind-the-scenes shots.
The scene starts with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Takamoto Katsuta playfully approaching the camera with a smile on his face; then, after about two minutes, Morizo appears. The reporter asks, “Why is Rovanperä such a good driver?”
Morizo was asked how he, as the team owner, views Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota’s WRC ace driver who has already won five out of nine races this year.
Morizo responded with a joke. “He likes donuts! I’m good at those as well. I want to have a donut contest with him someday!”
The donuts he referred to here are, of course, made when spinning a car in tight circles. So, one day, we may be able to see a donut spinning contest between a WRC driver and Morizo. Let’s see who makes better donuts then!