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Toyota withdraws liquid hydrogen Corolla after testing fire

Toyota has withdrawn its liquid hydrogen-powered Corolla from this week's opening round of the Super Taikyu season at Suzuka.

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The Japanese manufacturer had been preparing to run the Rookie Racing-entered #32 GR Corolla H2 Concept with liquid hydrogen propulsion for the first time, after two seasons using gaseous hydrogen.

It made its first public appearance in its new guise in last month's official Super Taikyu test at Fuji Speedway.

But just days away from the car's planned race debut at Suzuka, Toyota revealed the car had been damaged by a fire in the engine bay during a subsequent private test and could not be repaired in time for the season opener.

As such, the #32 machine will be replaced by a GR Yaris running on conventional gasoline.

Toyota's statement explained that the fire occurred due to a leaking pipe, stressing that the switch from gaseous hydrogen to liquid hydrogen did not directly cause the incident.

It stated that a pipe connection had worked loose due to a vibration, and that the leaking hydrogen was ignited by the heat of the engine.

The leak was detected by failsafe sensor, causing the supply of hydrogen to be cut and preventing the fire from spreading beyond the engine bay.

#32 ORC ROOKIE GR Corolla H2 concept

#32 ORC ROOKIE GR Corolla H2 concept

Photo by: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

The pipe design will be reviewed with the presumed aim of taking part in the second round of the season, the Fuji 24 Hours, in late May.

Toyota began testing the Corolla with liquid hydrogen last October. The switch from gaseous hydrogen has the twin benefits of being much easier to store - no longer requiring the enormous refuelling stations seen in previous years - and increasing the cruising range of the engine.

The move has its logistical challenges however, as the fuel itself must be stored at a temperature of -253 degrees Celsius.

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