GCK Motorsport had already announced its intention to develop a hydrogen-powered rally raid car back in November 2020, but it wasn’t until this Saturday that the French company unveiled the first version of the GCK e-Blast H2 in the Riyadh bivouac.
Before the new car makes its expected Dakar debut in 2024, GCK will continue to compete with Guerlain Chicherit’s Thunder DKR, which will run on biofuel starting this year to collect additional data.
The vehicle was developed in cooperation with the German company FEV and has a fuel cell with 20 kg of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar and an output of 200 kW. In addition, the hydrogen cell is directly connected to a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery that generates 50 kWh.
GCK said its two-speed electric motor is rated for 320 kW, which equates to 430 hp.
The company has come up with a solution to the common lag associated with hydrogen systems. Using the battery as a buffer to compensate for the time it takes for the hydrogen cell to transfer energy to the engine.
“The hydrogen cell is a component that works at a constant level, because you have a delay when you accelerate and a delay when you stop accelerating,” explains Sebastian Lesonneur, team manager for the GCK Motorsport rally raid program, to Autosport.
âThat’s why we need the batteries that act as a buffer. When you need more power, the battery gives it to you, and when you stop accelerating and the hydrogen cell is still producing 200kW of power, it is used to regenerate the battery instead of powering the engine. “
GCK e-Blast H2, full cell
Photo by: DPPI
In terms of weight, the car currently weighs around 2,200 kg (like the Audi RS Q e-tron that debuted at this year’s Dakar), but Lesonneur says a key benefit is that it doesn’t ever look like a gasoline-powered fuel The vehicle varies according to fuel consumption and thus offers stability in behavior and performance from start to finish.
Preliminary calculations suggest that the car could cover 250 km at racing pace, so GCK is hoping to amend the regulations so that it can be refueled in the same time as the T3 and T4 vehicles currently (20 minutes).
GCK Motorsport’s plan for the future is to run several bench tests in February to determine the H2 capacity and the final location of the hydrogen fuel cell before the prototype hits the market. From âJune to Julyâ it will then complete the first tests under real desert conditions and optimize the drive train in order to complete a few stages in Dakar next year.
“We are very proud to be able to present the first hydrogen off-road vehicle with an integrated fuel cell”, adds Eric Boudot, CEO of Green Corp Konnection and GCK Motorsport.
âFor Green Corp Konnection, motorsport represents a unique innovation laboratory for developing technological solutions that we can then offer our customers through our industrial activities. We are incredibly excited to be part of the #DakarFuture movement and further milestones on the way to more environmentally friendly mobility solutions. “
One of the most important points, according to GCK Engineering, is that all components used in this hydrogen fuel cell project will also find their counterparts in the industrial sector.
GCK is also developing an all-electric Lancia Delta Integrale to compete in the redesigned World Rallycross Championship this year.
GCK e-Blast H2
Photo by: DPPI