New hydrogen-powered Hyse-X1 reaches the halfway point of competition in the 46th Dakar Rally

The hydrogen-powered HySE-X1 managed to tackle the rigours of a 45km stage through dunes and soft sand near the bivouac at Shubaytah in remote Saudi Arabia and maintained its progress towards achieving the goal of finishing the gruelling Dakar Rally.

The HySE (Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology) has been entered in the new modern Dakar class (Mission 1000). This is an integral part of the Dakar Future Programme to encourage manufacturers to develop next-generation carbon-neutral powertrain technologies.

American driver Jamie Campbell and his Argentinean co-driver Bruno Jacomy had adopted a new strategy to cope with excessive fuel consumption on the sandier terrain and the crew delivered another excellent performance to guide the car through the sand until the fuel consumption became too much and they were forced to stop after 22km.

Quotes after Stage 6 on Thursday, January 11th
Jamie Campbell, Driver: « Stage six was very tough, 100% dunes. I felt a little more comfortable this morning. I felt better and my nerves were less. We had a good 22km going. Again, we were concerned with fuel and we decided to shorten our stage. Regretfully, the car broke but we are thinking positive to get the car fixed and continue the rally. Until today we were able to do our job and get the car to the finish line with very little issues. Overall, the rally has been great for HySE and Overdrive and we want to continue to perform.
« Having an all-dune section was very difficult. The challenge was that some of the sand was very soft. Making it up some of the hills was challenging and I tried to keep a cool head. Bruno did a great job navigating. The longer stages coming up will be tough for us. We will have to drive very cautious to make the whole stage. Right now, I don’t know if it is possible or not. But we will give it a good shot. It’s a challenge and that’s what Dakar is about. It’s my first Dakar as a pilot. We’ve had ups and downs but I’m very positive and I feel good. We just want to finish off the rally. »

Bruno Jacomy, Co-driver: « I think this was the hardest stage for the HySE. But we learned a lot about the limits of the car and the consumption. We are happy to be here and are looking forward to the next stages. We need to fill up the car fix it and then we continue with smiles on our faces. The first part of the rally has been awesome. We did what was expected, every day finishing an doing good. Today was hard for the car and the consumption but we are doing really good at the middle of the Dakar. »

Keita Nakanishi, Project Leader of HySE Dakar Project: « Stage six was the most difficult test. We had completed the stages so far, but due to getting stuck twice and the nature of the soft sand on the dune tracks, fuel consumption was high and we had to stop the HySE-X1 halfway through the stage. I would like to apologise to Jamie and Bruno, who did everything in their power to get the HySE-X1 to the finish line. We were lacking in both output and fuel efficiency and we realised, once again, that we needed an engine that could achieve both at a high level. I think this will be a good research topic for HySE, so we will be able to make use of what we have learned. »

The stage between Al-Salamiya and Al-Hofuf on Tuesday was only 76km but it contained three sections of soft sand and played havoc with the initial strategy for fuel consumption laid down by HySE technicians. Campbell and Jacomy managed to finish the day’s stage, despite running out of fuel at the finish line.

Quotes after Stage 4 on Tuesday, January 9th
Jamie Campbell, Driver: « Stage four, we had about 30km of dunes. For me, it was very new as I don’t drive in them back home very much. It was definitely a learning experience and a little scary. I did get stuck on one peak for four or five minutes but Bruno made good work, we navigated our way out, got our points and kept going. Overall, it was a good day for me learning the dunes. I was nervous but, hopefully, I will be better on stage six. I think the whole day will be dunes. We have a day of rest tomorrow and that will be kind of nice and Bruno and I are going to talk a little bit more about how to navigate through the dunes. »

Bruno Jacomy, Co-driver: « Today was really good and Jamie drove nice. We crossed 30km of dunes in total. It was a good day for the team again. We made a lot of sand, hard terrain, and real cross-country rally. We were close to not finishing but we did it, so we are happy. »

Keita Nakanishi, Project Leader of HySE Dakar Project: « I am fully aware that there are no easy stages on the Dakar, but today’s fourth one was the toughest so far. We have finished two stages, which were over 100km in length, so I thought we would be able to finish today’s 76km stage without any problems. But, 15km in the first part, five in the middle and 15km in the last section were soft tracks that went over sand dunes. As a result, fuel consumption exceeded our expectations and we ran out of fuel just as the HySE-X1 reached the finish line.
« The next Mission 1000 stage will be 45km and a full-sand dune stage. We will analyse the data collected in the sand dune area today and will discuss what we can learn from it. »

The HySE-X1 SSV is a joint project between the Japanese automotive manufacturers – Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Toyota and Yamaha – and utilises a chassis built by Overdrive Racing.

The chassis has been modified to accommodate three hydrogen fuel tanks and fuel supply system powering a 998cc, four-stroke supercharged motorcycle engine being used in research and development.

Mission 1000 competitors now head to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for a well-earned day of rest on Saturday (January 13th) before action resumes on Sunday with a 77km stage between the rest day bivouac and the town of Al-Duwadimi.