Hydrogen-Powered Hyse-X1 excels on short sprint stage from Al-Duwadimi to Ha’il on 46th Dakar Rally

The hydrogen-powered HySE-X1 remains firmly on course to finish the 46th Dakar Rally after an excellent performance on the short 77km eighth stage between Al-Duwadimi and Ha’il in the north-central region of Saudi Arabia on Monday.

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 run out of fuel on the longer sandy stage on Sunday but executed the revised strategy to perfection on the firmer and faster tracks en route to Ha’il on Monday. The Overdrive Racing-built chassis and its ground-breaking hydrogen engine technology reached the finish ahead of the other cars in the group.

Quotes after Stage 8 on Monday, January 15th
Jamie Campbell, Driver: « We had a great day today. It was more my style of racing, like back home in the desert with a lot of hard pack (hard ground), a lot of valleys and a few sand washes but not too bad. I felt really comfortable. Bruno was again on point with the navigation. We were cautious when we needed to slow down, fast when we needed to go fast and, overall, it was a fun day. We got to open up the car a little bit and go a little faster. We got the bonus (10 points) and finished as first four-wheel vehicle. I am super happy with that. The hydrogen engine was unbelievable. It was screaming, 9000 rpm. It was awesome hearing it behind us. It gave me motivation! »

Bruno Jacomy, Co-driver: « Today was another good day for the team. Thanks to the guys and the team at Overdrive. We made it and were pushing the whole stage. We started in the sixth position and then we finished first behind the bikes. That was good for us and we had good navigation. »

Keita Nakanishi, Project Leader of HySE Dakar Project: « Stage eight was a rather short stage at 77km. Based on the data and experience we’ve acquired in the Dakar so far, I asked Jamie and Bruno to run as fast as possible on today’s stage, while being careful about their remaining hydrogen levels. They executed this plan well and were able to finish earlier than the target time and earn 10 bonus points. I appreciate this. Tomorrow will be another long stage, 119km, so I want to plan our strategy well. »

After a much-needed rest day in Riyadh, on-stage action for the Mission 1000 category entrants continued with a demanding sandy stage of 112km between the Saudi capital and Al-Duwadimi on Sunday. The HySE-X1 ran out of fuel short of the stage finish, partly as a result of a minor navigational error that added five or six kilometres on to the stage distance for the crew. The fuel capacity for the HySE-X1 is not extensive at this stage and team officials had thought it was 50/50 whether the car would finish the full stage in any case.

Quotes after Stage 7 on Sunday, January 14th
Jamie Campbell, Driver: « The car drove really nice today. We are still conserving so we are not going full gas or race pace. I feel like the changes that the mechanics have made to the car are nice. The car drove smooth. We had a lot of sand. We made a mistake that cost us a few kilometres and that means we were using fuel for that. We made it to 95 (km). From kilometre 15 to 95 it was all sand. So, I feel the car did really good – no complaints. Stage eight will be a little shorter. There will not be as much sand, so we will be able to push the HySE X-1 a little bit harder. We are going for the end result here and the last stage of the rally and accomplish what we came here to do. »

Bruno Jacomy, Co-driver: « Today was stage seven and we needed the goal of 112km to do. We only made 95km. We just missed the track a little bit and we went left and we made five or six kilometres more. I think that’s why we finished at 95km. The car is doing good but we had a range problem again on the stage. So, we are looking for the next days. Tomorrow, we have 77 (km) so it’s not going to be a problem. We are finishing every day, so we are happy. »

Keita Nakanishi, Project Leader of HySE Dakar Project: « We have entered the second half of the Dakar Rally. On yesterday’s rest day, the HySE-X1 had been recovered from the sand dunes of stage six and arrived at the bivouac in the morning. It spent the day undergoing maintenance and was in perfect condition for stage seven. This was the longest stage so far at 112km. We made a decision to go as far as we could. I feel sorry for Jamie and Bruno for having to take on the task of keeping such strict control over the remaining fuel level while driving. As a result, the car stopped on the last part after running out of fuel. There will be an even longer stage waiting for us the day after tomorrow, so we will analyse the data and prepare to be able to run a lot longer there. »

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.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), the HySE-X1 tackles a stage of 119km between Ha’il and the picturesque city of Al-Ula, the host city for the start ceremony 11 days ago. From there, the route uses terrain through the northern deserts for a further three stages before the finish in Yanbu on Friday (January 19th).