The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), in close collaboration with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), is working towards the creation of a class for hydrogen-powered prototypes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the next few years. MissionH24, a joint venture between the ACO and GreenGT, is paving the way, conducting research and development in areas such as safety, performance and refueling.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans celebrates its Centenary this year. The ACO, organizer of the legendary endurance event, is preparing a new chapter for the race, pursuing its reputation as a demanding technological testing ground for the latest initiatives in the automotive world.
The ACO began deploying its hydrogen strategy in 2018, with the goal of introducing a category dedicated to the technology at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the rest of the FIA WEC. Thanks to support from the FIA, the MissionH24 program and its partners TotalEnergies, Michelin, Symbio, Plastic Omnium, Richard Mille, Dietsmann, and Essilor have gone from strength to strength, gradually turning ideas into reality.
In the space of just a few years, the progress made is there for all to see: from the approval of the car’s design, the creation of a mobile refueling station, to racing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell prototype, including competing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
“We are learning by doing. We are exploring possibilities. And that is exactly the objective we set ourselves five years ago when we launched MissionH24. The fuel cell was initially chosen for its potential, which is still relevant. Today, the hydrogen internal combustion engine is also presented as a possibility for manufacturers. The 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations have always advocated freedom and variety. As such, we are officially announcing that both technologies, fuel cell and internal combustion engine, will be accepted and authorized for manufacturers wishing to enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the hydrogen category. I would like to highlight the tremendous work carried out by MissionH24, alongside the ACO and FIA. We are all aware of the challenges facing the future of motorsport, and of the need to decarbonize mobility, and we are addressing them together,” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.
Richard Mille, FIA Endurance Commission President, also commented: “Hydrogen as a power source is yet to be fully explored in motor sport. However, given the fact that it offers a variety of options in terms of storage types and powertrains, it makes for a very interesting prospect. Implementing sustainable power sources across motorsport competition is one of the key targets of the FIA and part of our long-term roadmap. The key is to address the best solutions for different motorsport disciplines. Given the nature of endurance racing, hydrogen is one of the most suitable options, therefore the FIA fully supports the ACO’s MissionH24 project. We are working with them, sharing our know-how and expertise, to introduce a new power source to endurance racing.”
Source: 24 Hours of Le Mans