Škoda Motorsport is looking for ways to make motorsport more sustainable. One such way is the use of non-fossil fuels, which help to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions in racing cars. Such fuel is used, for example, by the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

In the World Rally Championship, the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 cars run on 100% synthetic fuel without fossil components. This change came in 2022, when the FIA introduced the use of fossil-free fuels for all cars in rallying as the first motorsport championship in the world. "In the 2023 season, we saved 160 tonnes of CO2 emissions with Škoda rally cars. And that's a huge saving," says driver Oliver Solberg, pointing out the effect of fuel use.

In order for the Fabia RS Rally2 to make the most efficient use of the fuel supplied by P1 Fuels, the engineers have adapted several details to the design of the racing engine. "Compared to the previous generation car, we had to slightly modify the fuel system, especially the seals. Initially, we also had to use engine oil with a slightly higher viscosity, but this is no longer necessary with the latest non-fossil fuel specification for the 2024 season," explains Aleš Rada, technical director of Škoda Motorsport. The modifications have also affected the engine control unit software.

As a result, the non-fossil fuel behaves in the same way as the fossil fuel in the race car. "From the driver's point of view, the performance is the same; the fuel has the same octane number as the previous fossil fuels, i.e. 102. Working with fuel is no different, and neither the teams nor the organisers must follow any special procedures when handling and refuelling during the race," says Oliver Solberg.

The sustainability of the fuel lies in the fact that it uses carbon dioxide in a closed cycle. This is because the fuel is produced from waste CO2 captured from the air either by special industrial processes or through biomass by photosynthesis. The CO2 that is put into the fuel during production is then released by the race car by burning the fuel. "There's nothing extra," says Oliver Solberg about greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the fuel does not contain any fossil components, it is produced entirely synthetically.

"Compared to fossil fuels, we achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. And with our latest technology, we are aiming for this reduction to reach up to 95%," says Martin Popilka, CEO of P1 Fuels, which produces and supplies the fuel. Also important is the fact that the production of fuel does not use resources that could otherwise be used in the food industry. Thus, fuel production does not compete with the food sector for valuable land.

According to Martin Popilka, the fuel could be used in production cars with internal combustion engines without modifications. "By simply changing the fuel, we can turn every car on our roads into a climate-friendly car," he says. At the same time, motorsport clearly lends itself to such pioneering steps. "This is and always has been the role of motorsport. To inspire and improve the technology in road cars," adds the director of P1 Fuels.