Student-built hydrogen Le Mans style prototype beats gasoline-powered cars in Supercar Challenge race
The “Forze VIII”, a hydrogen fuel cell Le-Mans-style prototype, became the first hydrogen-electric vehicle to beat gasoline-powered cars in an official race. The car, designed, built, tested and raced by a group of students from Delft University of Technology, finished second in the Supercar Challenge at the TT Circuit in Assen, the Netherlands.
In a field of 43 gasoline-powered race cars, the hydrogen race car started the last race of the weekend from the fourth position. After a strong start, the car climbed quickly from fourth to second in its class. Within a few laps, driver Leo van der Eijk had already built up a 15-second gap between him and the third position. The team was able to keep up the pace for the rest of the race and secured a podium position.
We’re incredibly proud of what we have accomplished today. Never before did a hydrogen-electric race car beat other cars in an official competition—let alone the kind of petrol-powered race cars we were racing against today. This podium finish is the result of not just one year, but twelve years of dedication, faith and hard work. Being a student team makes it feel almost unreal to be the first to ever accomplish this.—Zhi Wei Cai, Team Manager
Mid-July the team also faced gasoline-driven competitors at the future Formula 1 Circuit of Zandvoort. The team was unable to finish the first race because of technical difficulties, but the second race was promising. However, after setting the fastest lap time, the car shut down for a brief moment, causing the Forze VIII to drop from the first to the last position. Not having enough time to reclaim the places they lost, the team finished last.
The racer uses a Ballard FC Velocity MK1100 stack with Forze-developed balance of plant. The student-built Forze VIII can accelerate from 0 to a 100 km/h in under 4 seconds and has a top speed of over 210 km/h, propelled by two Yasa P400s. Peak power is 320 kW, while the maximum torque the motors can deliver is 780 N·m. For comparison: the Ferrari 812 Superfast, one of the fastest models the Italian sports car manufacturer produces, taps out at 718 N·m.
Student team Forze Hydrogen Electric Racing has existed for over 12 years, in this period they have built 8 cars. The team’s mission is to promote fuel-cell technology.
We build an inspiring example, a race car, and we use it to show the possibilities of hydrogen to the world. The Forze VIII has been that example for the last two years, we have done everything we can on this platform. Designing, building and testing the next generation hydrogen-racer, the Forze IX, will be the next challenge for our team. Today’s podium-finish has only made us more enthusiastic about what we can do with the next car.Zhi Wei Cai