Toyota’s master driver, Morizo, has driven in countless races in Japan and abroad. Even so, his recent participation in the World Rally Championship (WRC) held a special significance. Yuta Tomikawa, a new addition to the Toyota Times team, was there to closely follow Morizo’s run.
Morizo drove a GR Yaris equipped with a hydrogen-powered engine that Toyota is currently developing for future commercialization. At the WRC event, it became the first hydrogen-engine car to run on a public road outside Japan. Notably, this took place in Europe, which is currently charting a battery EV-led course towards carbon neutrality.
The WRC is the pinnacle of world rally competitions. Given Europe’s legions of passionate rally fans, the WRC event presented an ideal opportunity for the hydrogen-powered car’s run to grab the public’s attention.
The setting was Ypres, a town in western Belgium. This normally tranquil area of the countryside was abuzz with excited rally fans. Morizo fit right in when he arrived at the site ahead of his run, chatting happily with the team’s drivers and mechanics.
He was also delighted to have the legendary driver and four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen as co-driver. “It is a special opportunity with Kankkunen and all!”
Morizo and Kankkunen took a demo run on the actual WRC course, the same roads where the world’s best drivers would soon compete. What words did Morizo share immediately before and after jumping behind the wheel?
Pre-run interview with Morizo (excerpt)
How do you feel about driving the actual WRC course?
The key is that I’m doing it in this car—a hydrogen-powered car.
Our goal now is carbon neutrality, but a diverse world needs diverse options. In the current climate, people focus on BEVs as the only option, but our enemy is carbon.
This internal combustion engine car emits no CO2, and running it in the WRC is a great chance for many people to see this as another carbon-neutral option.
People associate hydrogen with dangerous explosions, but when they see me getting behind the wheel, I hope they will accept hydrogen as a viable future alternative.
Tomorrow you’re in the passenger seat [as Kankkunen drives]?
That’s right. More people will be able to experience Kankkunen’s driving and the hydrogen-powered car in the final Special Stage.
Will you give directions as co-driver?
(Whispering) Is it your first time?
(Whispering) Yes, my first time as co-driver...
Make sure to check out Morizo’s cheeky side coming out in the interview.
00:17 Yuta Tomikawa’s helicopter report
01:50 Morizo’s arrival
03;25 GR Yaris development team interview
05:21 Pre-run talk with Morizo
09:51 One-on-one at the finish line
13:05 Interview with legendary driver Juha Kankkunen