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GEN Z Project to Introduce a Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle that Will Change the World of Rally Motorsports

By December 9, 2020 5   min read  (1002 words)

December 9, 2020 |

  • The pilots will introduce the GEN Z Project, a full hydrogen-powered vehicle

Explorer Mike Horn and professional Rally Racer Cyril Despres will be participating as a team in the 43 rd edition of the Dakar, taking place in Saudi Arabia this coming January 2021.

On top of reaching for the podium, the duo has a greater purpose in mind: The GEN Z Project. A mission aiming to introduce fully hydrogen-powered vehicles in the world of rally raids.

This is not the first time Mike and Cyril are uniting forces. In January 2020, the pair participated in the 42 nd edition of the Dakar by joining the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team as technical and mental coaches for the younger members of the team. During this first Dakar experience, Mike Horn observed the ins and outs of the competition and came to the following conclusion: rally raids need to make a drastic change and become a more sustainable sport for the wellbeing of the planet and future generations.

“This is a unique opportunity to learn while participating. If you do not become part of the adventure, then you do not know what you are talking about. To be able to participate means you are emotionally and intellectually involved in what is happening, ”commented Mike during the last edition of the Dakar. Following this experience, Horn and Despres assembled a team of researchers and engineers to “create the first hydrogen-powered vehicle to participate in the Dakar, an ambition that should come to life in 2023.”

As part of their research, Mike and Cyril will compete in this coming edition of the Dakar behind the wheel of a Peugeot DKR. This vehicle was specifically selected as its dimensions come closest to those of the GEN Z (wheels 37 inches, width 2m30, but 4X4 instead of 4X2).

Additionally, in order to collect valuable information throughout the race, a data acquisition system will be integrated into their vehicle. The system will gather information such as engine capacity, brake pressure, engine temperatures, acceleration and speed. These performance standards will then be based on to create a hydrogen-powered vehicle able to compete against internal combustion vehicles in the most challenging rally by 2023.

“One of my main missions is to conserve the planet, to leave a future for the younger generation” explains Horn. As a professional explorer, Mike has witnessed the world change before his eyes. His knowledge and credibility will therefore play an important role in transforminh the way future rally raids are viewed and organized. Supporting this mission, the Dakar organization will be announcing and setting sustainable objectives for future Dakar races.

Dakar 2021 will take place from January 3 rd to 15 th across Saudi Arabia. Mike and Cyril will be joining the Abu Dhabi Racing Team alongside Sheik Al Qassimi.

Cyril Despres and Mike Horn on the Dakar 2021 to change the future of Rally Raid.

The crew is starting today to develop the “GEN Z” project, a vehicle running entirely on hydrogen.

Adventurer explorer Mike Horn and five-time Dakar rally-raid driver Cyril Despres will once again be at the start of the 43rd edition of the Dakar, in January 2021 in Saudi Arabia.

In 2020, Mike Horn alongside Cyril Despres discovered the most demanding rally in the world by entering a buggy in the SSV category in the Redbull Off-Road Junior Team. They had taken on the double hat of sports coach and mental trainer for the young American pilots of the structure, marvelously combining the experience of an extreme explorer and that of a multiple winner of the Dakar.

During this first participation, Mike Horn was able to observe the ins and outs of competition and realized that the world of motorsport had to change to become more environmentally friendly for future generations.

“  It’s a unique opportunity to learn while participating. If you are not part of the adventure then you don’t know what you are talking about. Being able to participate means that you are emotionally and intellectually involved in what is going on, ” said Mike.

Upon returning from their experience in the desert, Mike and Cyril joined forces with a competition car preparer (Vaison Sport) and a team of scientists from the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission and Alternative Energies) to develop the project. “GEN Z”, with a single objective for 2023: to win the Dakar by releasing only water vapor, thanks to a hydrogen engine.

At the wheel of an Abu Dhabi Racing team buggy, the mission of our experienced crew will be to collect essential information. Filled with sensors, their laboratory vehicle will continuously record the pilot (damping, braking, movements), engine (rpm, temperatures) and physical (acceleration, masses, speeds) parameters to extract the necessary capacities and performance so that the vehicle “GEN Z” can fight against vehicles with thermal engines.

“Preserving the planet, being able to give a future to the younger generation is one of my missions,” explains Mr. Horn.

As a professional explorer who has seen the world and its playground change before his eyes, Mike can play an important role in more sustainable motorsport with the help of his friend and driver Cyril Despres.

Cyril Despres:  “To take the start of my 21st Dakar with Mike, to lead a development mission which can revolutionize the world of motorsports within 2 years is an immense honor which goes far beyond the sporting side of the event. . Our buggy prepared by the PH Sport team will allow us to fight at the forefront. For the acquisition of the data necessary for the future “GEN Z” to be optimum, we will have to be fast. “

The Dakar organization will announce its goal of integrating renewable energy vehicles in the coming years during the rest day in Ha’il on January 9.

The Dakar 2021 will take place from January 3 to 15 across Saudi Arabia. Mike and Cyril will join the Abu Dhabi Racing racing team alongside Sheik Khalid Al Qassimi.

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