Racing on hydrogen? Meet one of the drivers
Leo van der Eijk (28) is one of the drivers of the hydrogen car of Forze. He became the first hydrogen driver to beat his competitors on regular fuels in 2019. He will also appear at the start in the latest Forze IX.
What's that like, racing on hydrogen?
"Of course different from driving a petrol car. You have instant power, continuous power. With a petrol car, that's not the case, there's a delay. It only has offers peak power at certain revelations per minute. Driving on hydrogen is similar to driving an electric car. In addition, you have to race more tactically. I have a buffer at my disposal between the fuel cell and the electric motor. It stores energy in the corners, which you can use to build extra speed when you come out of a corner. How you deal with that buffer can make all the difference."
What about the sound?
"The car makes other noises. You can hear the compressor working. And you can hear the fuel cell. Actually, you hear all the instruments to make the water and oxygen react in the fuel cell. But in my head, I turn off the sounds of the car. That's because the sounds don't exactly match with how you drive, which is the case in a regular car. It’ll make more noise when you hit the gas."
A dilemma: racing in a petrol car or in a hydrogen car?
"Of course, roaring petrol engines provide more spectacle for the outside world. But as a driver, I have no preference. Actually, with a hydrogen car you know better what to expect: when you touch the throttle, you know that you have full power immediately."
Do you have any fears?
"I have driven rally cars. At 200 kilometers per hour brushing the trees. So no, as a racer, I don't live in fear. You have to use your common sense. I get into a hydrogen racing car with a peace of mind, because I have full confidence in the people who worked on the car. I don't care if there's a hydrogen tank in the car. Because I know how it works technically."
"I study Mechanical Engineering and Vehicle Engineering at Delft University of Technology. I'm actually still graduating, haha. I have previously been a team member of Forze; I once helped build a hydrogen racing car, the Forze VI. Somehow I've always stayed involved with the team. Now as their driver and sparring partner."
You're the first driver in a hydrogen racing car to take a podium against regular racing cars.
"I still am that student who wants to implement innovations though. Promoting hydrogen to the outside world in this way. And showcasing that hydrogen is really a serious option for the future. As a driver, I felt privileged to be able to drive for such a team. Because I know how hard that car has been worked on. That podium was therefore the ultimate feeling. "
What do you expect from the Forze IX?
"More power, higher top speed, faster lap times, more spectacle. We're going up against cars from a higher level. We also want to be the best in the higher racing class!"
DISCOVER MORE ON SHELL FOR MOTORISTS
From our wide range of fuels and motor oils to credit card services that make it easy to fill up when you’re on the go, Shell helps you get the most out of every drop.