Well, this sounds like it could all end in expensive fragments of carbon fibre, aluminium and leather. But fear not, while this new Aston Rapide S racer will indeed be running on explosive hydrogen at next month’s 41st ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and carrying 3.5kg of the pop-juice in four tanks – at a pressure of 350 bar! – Those tanks are ultra-high strength carbon fibre and the whole shebang has been passed for safety by the distinctly rigorous German motorsport’s governing body, the DMSB. If the driver asks, those two hydrogen-fuel-tank-like tanks next to him aren’t full of hydrogen.
In a racing world first, the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S will be the first hydrogen-powered car to compete in an international racing event and the first zero CO2 emissions sportscar to complete a race pace lap at the Nurburgring 24-hour race. And what a first race to go for – 24 hours of day and night high speed lappery on the evil Nurburgring. It’s called the Green Hell as it’s surrounded by forestry and only the maddest, fastest and downright meanest drivers in the world make it round in any kind of style.
The fearless wheelman strapped into this experimental new Aston missile will draw some comfort from the fact that he’s in an all-new, rather gorgeous Aston racer; this Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S, that’s based on Aston Martin’s new four-door, four-seat sportscar that hits dealers this month. Customer cars will be powered by a more familiar 6-litre, V12 motor running on nothing more than good old high octane unleaded, to the tune of 190mph, and 62mph in 4.9 seconds.
Our racer gets something a little more high tech under his right foot for his Nurburgring racing laps, namely a prototype twin turbocharged 6-litre V12 engine that can run on either pure petrol, pure gaseous hydrogen, or a blend of both. In pure hydrogen running mode, Aston Martin aim to show that a zero emissions lap of the legendary ‘ring is possible, with only water frothing out of the tailpipe.
Now, Aston haven’t released full details of how much power this engine will make using only hydrogen, but it’s likely that for full power this uber-hybrid will use a petrol boost – remember, it has two turbochargers too – and once at speed and ‘cruising’ could potentially switch to pure hydrogen for zero CO2 at that point. The engine management system can mix the petrol and hydrogen as it sees fit and with the turbos making up some useful torque, the end result should be a full-blooded V12 Aston racer that in total emits similar CO2 to that of a road going supermini. The nifty fuelling diagram below helps make sense of this awesome petrol / hydrogen hybrid witchcraftery.
The ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours runs over May 19-20, with over 150 cars taking part in the gruelling 24-hour race around the 18 mile Nordschleife. Just give this particular Aston racer a wide berth into the first corner, eh lads!
Hmm, looks straightforward enough to me!
By Dan Anslow