A Hydrogen-Powered Car Will Compete In The Dakar Rally In 2024

The 2020 Dakar Rally.
The 2020 Dakar Rally.
Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP (Getty Images)

While most automotive companies have been pivoting to electrification instead of hydrogen when dreaming up more sustainable power sources, some folks are still hellbent on proving that hydrogen works. One of those companies is GCK (or Green Corp Konnection) Motorsport, which is aiming to bring a hydrogen-powered car to the 2024 Dakar Rally.

GCK Racing is a former World Rallycross team that has launched a really neat four-year off-road program. It’s going to start by fielding an electric car before making the transition to hydrogen power. The EV, the GCK e-BLAST 1, is based on the Peugeot 3008 DKR chassis that won the Dakar Rally in 2017 and 2018, except it’s powered by a 150 kW battery. It won’t compete in January’s rally, but it will be going off-roading in other events in 2021, the team reports.

From its press release:

In parallel, GCK Motorsport will be developing their hydrogen-powered solution with a view to present a hydrogen-powered vehicle in January 2022, before being fully race-ready in 2023 - 2024.

With a view to take on Dakar’s gruelling route with a 2-car team by 2024, GCK Motorsport will also make their green racing technology available commercially to other teams attempting the long-distance rally and sharing GCK’s vision in reducing their environmental impact.

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There aren’t a ton of details about how its hydrogen program is going to develop or what we can expect spec-wise, but that’s probably just because GCK still has to, y’know, start developing the thing based on feedback from its EV. Unless another manufacturer has secret hydrogen plans that we don’t know about, this will be the first hydrogen machine to compete in the rally.

That said, hydrogen looks to be the future of the Dakar Rally. The Amaury Sport Organization, or ASO, which puts on the Dakar Rally, announced that it plans to be hydrogen-friendly within the next 10 years. All competing vehicles will have to be hydrogen-powered by 2030, with cars and trucks needing to be hydrogen-powered by 2026.

Here’s more from Dakar director David Castera:

The Dakar has always been an open laboratory and we have decided within the ASO to go forward towards alternative motorization.

It means that as of today, the Dakar will slowly but surely move towards hydrogen. The idea for us that in 2030, we’ll only have hydrogen-fueled vehicles, and I mean by that for cars and trucks.

For that, there will be a transition period: the first phase will be in 2026 when all the elite cars and trucks will be concerned. Then, it will be all vehicles for 2030.

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More details will be released at a press conference on January 11, 2021. Until then, we’ll just have to speculate. But right now, it sounds like GCK already has a leg up on the rest of the competition.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

atcgnome
The Stig's Chamorro cousin (Chamorrovirus)

Can you please clarify if their definition of “hydrogen-powered” means hydrogen fuel cell electric, or actually burning H2 for energy?

Because the former means a switch from BEV to fuel cell EV (not EV to Hydrogen, because fuel cell = EV but with a fuel cell), whereas the latter is just stupid but I guess technically possible.