Monday, April 15, 2024

Rainbow Truck Team to race hydrogen-powered Amarok at 2024 Dakar Rally

Rainbow Truck Team will add a slightly different truck to their arsenal for the 2024 Dakar Rally as they will field a modified Volkswagen Amarok that operates on hydrogen, with Dick Zuurmond and Simon Koetsier as driver and navigator.

Dubbed the Amarok H2, it was developed by E•Lions who specialises in modifying discarded commercial vehicles into fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). The conversion process entails removing all diesel-related components before installing an electric motor and battery pack, along with the hydrogen fuel cell, while also rewriting any electronics to be compatible with the new technology. A traditional gearbox is used so that the battery can remain at a lower voltage at 48 Volt.

An Amarok is currently used by the Dakar Press Team for photographers heading out to the race; the press corps will switch to a hydrogen FCEV version of the Amarok DC 4Motion from E•Lions in 2024. It is capable of 450 horsepower (850 Newton-meters) on a 44 kWh battery pack. Like with most FCEVs that use the fuel, its tank stores hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar.

Besides the Amarok, E•Lions has also converted a Volkswagen Crafter.

Rainbow will field the Amarok in Mission 1000, a new non-competition category for the 2024 Dakar Rally dedicated to vehicles on electric, hydrogen, or hybrid power. Rather than running the same route as the main Rally, participants will attempt to complete an adjacent 100-kilometre course each day.

Amaroks have mainly seen rally raid action as a T1 or T2 class challenger. After being used as a support car by Volkswagen Motorsport at the 2010 Dakar Rally, it became a T1 competitor with Hennie de Klerk from 2018 through 2022. In September, Portuguese Cross-Country Championship driver Nuno Matos débuted the Amarok PROTO, a Light Prototype side-by-side vehicle capable of competing in T3, at the Baja TT Sharish Gin though he retired due to a wreck.

While racing the Amarok, Rainbow Truck Team will also focus on winning the Dakar Rally proper in the T5 category with their MAN TGA piloted by Gerrit Zuurmond. He finished fourteenth in class after being set back by an engine failure in Stage #8.

The 2024 Dakar Rally kicks off on 5 January.