KH-7 Epsilon Team entered the 2023 Dakar Rally with a MAN TGA 26.480 6×6 truck that ran on a fuel blend of hydrogen and diesel, but was not allowed to compete in the Truck category alongside the traditional diesel vehicles. The team, now known as KH-7 Ecovergy Team, will return for the 2024 race, albeit in the new Mission 1000 class for cars and bikes using hydrogen, electric, or hybrid power. Jordi Juvanteny will once again be its driver with José Luis Criado and Xavi Ribas sharing the cockpit.
Barred from racing in the class formerly known as T5, KH-7 was forced to contest the 2023 Rally in a new “Challenge New Energy” category, meaning the MAN was not classified alongside the T5 entrants and had to start behind every truck. Their race ended abruptly when the truck rolled during the Empty Quarter Marathon.
“We would have preferred to run the entire Dakar, but at the moment the rules do not allow it,” explained Juvanteny to SoyMotor.com. “They do not foresee the use of hydrogen, so we have opted for this category since we could not be left without Dakar.”
KH-7 had won the 6×6 truck subcategory at Dakar every year from 2019 to 2022 and is a sixteen-time champion. In 2022, the team intoduced a zero-emission truck that raced on a mix of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The 2023 MAN’s diesel/hydrogen fuel mix was balanced at fifty-fifty apiece, though KH-7 plans to increase the hydrogen ratio to ninety percent for 2024.
The Dakar Rally hopes to mandate zero-emission vehicles by 2030, and the introduction of Mission 1000 is designed to be an early step towards that goal. Mission 1000 will consist of a dozen vehicles that follow the main Dakar Rally, but will compete on a separate 100-kilometre course.
Most entrants for the inaugural Mission 1000 are on motorcycles such as the electric bike of Green Power Race. Among the four-wheelers, Japan’s automotive companies have come together to field a hydrogen side-by-side vehicle called the HySE-X1, while Rainbow Truck Team is preparing a hydrogen Volkswagen Amarok.
The 2024 Dakar Rally kicks off on 5 January.
UPDATE: The team has also rebranded to KH-7 Ecovergy Team. The article has been updated to reflect this.