At the heart of the Hydrogen Village inaugurated this Wednesday by Pierre Fillon, is one of the prototypes with electric-hydrogen propulsion from the MissionH24 program. The story of a pioneering challenge that opened the way to Endurance for all manufacturers tempted by this energy.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, and Christophe Ricard, President of GreenGT, are two visionaries. If their common ambitions to pave the way for carbon-free mobility in Endurance had not met in 2018, hydrogen would not have such a promising future in motorsport today.
It was indeed in 2018 that the two men decided to create together a development program for a zero-emission competition vehicle, with electric-hydrogen propulsion by fuel cell, cut for Endurance. The history of motorsport gains a name, MissionH24, which sums up its concept in an acronym: “Mission” which marks the importance that the two partners give to their founding program, “H” as the chemical symbol for hydrogen , “24” for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most prestigious and difficult endurance event in the world.
On September 22, 2018, on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the first vehicle of this joint program between the two entities, a laboratory prototype called LMPH2G (for “Le Mans Prototype Dihydrogen Gazeux”) completed its first lap. Behind the wheel, Yannick Dalmas, four-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, reveals the tangibility of the program and its ambitions. A world first.
Over the following seasons, the H24Racing team, created to operate the vehicle on the track, chained the first, all historic: on June 15, 2019, the LMPH2G completed a lap of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit a few minutes before the start of the competitors of the 87th edition of the event. On September 20, 2019, on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the car took part in free practice for the Belgian round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup. On this occasion, it performed another world first: hydrogen refueling at the mobile station specially developed by TotalEnergies. In September 2020, on the occasion of the 88th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it repeats its Tour d’Honneur.
In March 2021, the H24 is presented, the first racing prototype of the MissionH24 program which succeeds the laboratory car that was the LMPH2G. The H24 begins an intense program of private tests and, on August 21, 2021, completes a Lap of Honor of the Le Mans circuit a few minutes before the competitors of the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans set off. These demonstration laps, like the thousands of kilometers in private testing and the few participations in free practice at the Michelin Le Mans Cup events, prepare the car for its first major challenge: participation in an entire weekend of competition, free practice, qualifying and race. This first Everest which MissionH24 must confront will be presented to the racing team on the weekend of May 14, 2022. On the Imola circuit, as part of the Italian round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup calendar, the driver of the H24, Stéphane Richelmi, takes the checkered flag after 110 minutes of racing. Never in the history of motorsport has a prototype with electric-hydrogen propulsion taken part in an international endurance race. In June, a new feat during the week of the 24 Hours of Le Mans: Stéphane Richelmi set a speed record on the 24 Hours circuit by reaching 290.8 km/h in the Hunaudières, in incipient rain.
On the occasion of the race week of the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, MissionH24 is once again present on the Sarthe circuit. For a few demonstration laps with prestigious guests in the passenger seat of the LMPH2G (which is still running!), and for the new Lap of Honor that the H24 will perform on Saturday, Stéphane Richelmi at the wheel of the H24, at 3:42 p.m., a few minutes before the competitors of the centenary edition set off. The 24 Hours of Le Mans closes with this 91st race the book of its first centenary. MissionH24 is rolling for the history of tomorrow, paving the way since 2018 for builders who, like this week in the Hydrogen Village, unveil their projects around this energy.
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