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Latest News...

Bio-fuel world first puts Toyota on pole

14 Nov 2007


Toyota's locally developed racing series is taking a world first step into environmentally ethical fuel production and use with the adoption this year of an E85 ethanol fuel blend.

The fuel is 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent 95 octane petrol.

Toyota's pioneering move follows months of laboratory and dynamometer testing and engine performance tuning and a comprehensive re-development of the Toyota Racing Series cars with new fuel system components to manage the new fuel.

The bio-fuel initiative is specific to motorsport, but offers a perfect test environment for high percentage biofuel use under the most extreme conditions.

Ethanol based bio-fuels have not been used in New Zealand motorsport until now, and their adoption for the Toyota Racing Series has only been possible through Motorsport New Zealand's willingness to modify regulations governing permissible rules in its championships.

In extensive testing by TRS the fuel has consistently burned cooler than petrol and can deliver significantly reduced emissions. In the process of re-tuning the engines for the new fuel power and torque gains were also noted.

The Toyota Racing Series is New Zealand's premier open-wheel 'wings and slicks' race category and uses Italian built carbon-composite race chassis fitted with production Toyota four cylinder engines that have been developed for motorsport purposes.

Other race series worldwide are examining the potential of bio-fuels, but all use purpose-built competition engines and none have indicated they can or will commit to an E85 fuel blend until at least 2009. The A1GP series recently pulled out of plans to run an E30 blend that used ethanol derived from sugar beets.

Toyota Racing Series Manager Barrie Thomlinson says the off season period has been used to comprehensively test and prove the fuel's suitability for competition.

"We are very confident about the fuel's compatibility with racing uses, and we are looking forward to the data that we can provide about the use of high percentage fuel blends. This is a perfect example of motorsport helping the automotive world to produce cleaner, smarter road cars and giving global brands like Toyota tools that help to actively manage their carbon profile."

Toyota's commitment to bio-fuel in the Toyota Racing Series will have an advocacy component, helping to educate car owners, Toyota staff, its commercial partners, Kiwi race fans and the community at large about the growing fight against climate change.

The switch to E85 for the race series also points the way to development of true carbon-neutral and ethical fuels.

Environmental activists and political parties have for some time been voicing concern about the trend toward diversion of arable land from food crops to growing new fuel crops. The ethanol used in the TRS E85 blend is derived not from grain or root vegetables as is the case with much of the developing biofuel industry in other countries, but as a by-product of the dairy industry.

"Potentially, if production volumes are commercially viable, distilling ethanol from dairy industry waste could help relieve some of the pressure on food cropping. Developing this kind of capability in our dairy industry now could give New Zealand an edge over the rest of the world."

Among the eight rounds the Toyota Racing Series competitors will contest this year, the greatest test may well be the 35-lap New Zealand Grand Prix, which will be held this year at Manfeild near Palmerston North. Manfeild Park Trust Chief Executive Officer Phil Abraham says he is excited at the prospect of hosting the first ever "green Grand Prix" in early January.