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Vasselon appointed to new role as Toyota prepares for hydrogen Le Mans entry

Former Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon will remain with the Japanese manufacturer in a new role planning development of a hydrogen-fuelled Le Mans prototype.

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota Gazoo Racing

It was a role already earmarked for the 60-year-old prior to his sudden departure from the top engineering job he had occupied since 2006 in January as part of what was billed as a management change “designed to develop the next generation of company leaders” at the Cologne-based organisation, which masterminds Toyota’s World Endurance Championship programme and builds the engines for the World Rally Championship GR Yaris Rally1. 

Vasselon has been announced as the new vice-president of TGR strategic motorsport development in which he will “contribute to the planning and development of future global motorsport activities with a focus on carbon neutrality and hydrogen technology”, according to a statement from Toyota. 

Within his role he will “will lead TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s representation to the relevant governing bodies around the world”.

Vasselon was already involved in the programme to put a prototype powered by a hydrogen combustion engine on the Le Mans grid, which was formalised with the unveiling of the GR H2 Concept on the eve of last year’s edition of the French enduro. 

It was originally envisaged that the Frenchman would move into a new role at the end of the 2024 season prior to the abrupt management reshuffle last month in which his day-to-day activities at TRGE headquarters in Cologne were paused.  

David Floury, part of the Toyota WEC set up since its entry into the series in 2012 and Vasselon’s deputy at TGRE since 2021, has been confirmed as the new technical director. 

Since January he has been fulfilling the role in an acting capacity.

GR H2 Racing Concept

GR H2 Racing Concept

Photo by: Toyota Racing

It now appears likely that the WEC's new hydrogen category will begin in 2027 following comments made by Pierre Fillon, the president of Le Mans organiser and WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, that a 2026 start "is not realistic".

Toyota's GR H2 concept was launched amid comments from Vasselon that victory at Le Mans for a hydrogen-powered car in 2026 "should be feasible" if the regulations allowed it to compete on equal terms with existing Hypercars.

Toyota has already developed the liquid hydrogen-powered Corolla H2 Concept which entered the Super Taikyu Fuji 24 Hours in 2023, with Vasselon stating that hydrogen combustion represented a "lighter, simpler and a bit better suited" solution for racing applications than fuel cells.

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