Red Bull Advanced Technologies and Oreca join Le Mans hydrogen effort

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Le Mans 24 Hours organizing body the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) has announced that a partnership between Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT) and Oreca has been awarded the tender to supply the chassis for its Mission H24 hydrogen-powered class, due to arrive in 2024.

RBAT and Oreca decided to pool their resources, the former bringing its expertise in aerodynamics, simulation and energy recovery systems, while the latter will lean on its considerable experience building and running sports prototypes. Following the award of the tender, the ACO’s first requirement is a detailed feasibility study of a potential vehicle concept.

To date, the ACO has been working with Swiss outfit Green GT, which has been developing hydrogen fuel cell-powered track machines for the best part of a decade, one of which was due to be a Garage 56 entry at Le Mans in 2013. In recent years, it has been running a pair of prototypes based on an LMP3 chassis. These are fitted with the company’s latest fuel cell, which features four stacks and provides a net output of 250kW, however, the use of a buffer battery between the cell and the car’s four electric motors allows for a peak output of 420kW.

Alongside the new partners and Green GT, the ACO also has an agreement with French firm Plastic Omnium, which will be supplying hydrogen tanks for the project.

Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO commented, “This exciting announcement confirms the appeal of Mission H24 and offers a promising future for zero-carbon motor racing and hydrogen prototypes. Thanks to Oreca, a mainstay of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for many years, and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, a successful motorsport business, the ACO will benefit from extensive endurance racing experience combined with cutting-edge technology to guarantee outstanding performance in its hydrogen class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Having these top-flight automotive firms on board is likely to draw even more interest from car manufacturers.”

Hugues de Chaunac, president of the Oreca Groupe, added, “Collaboration is vital if we are to succeed in introducing a hydrogen class at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. Oreca enjoys challenges and pioneering change and we can fully express our talents in such an engrossing enterprise. With the LMH and LMDh classes, endurance racing is entering a fascinating new era. From a technical and sporting point of view it will have us on the edge of our seats.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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