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Opel Zafira prototype wins fuel cell trophy

OPEL'S hydrogen-powered HydroGen3 prototype, based on the Zafira, has claimed first place in the fuel cell class of the Rallye Monte Carlo Fuel Cell and Hybrid event.

It came third overall, beating 10 participating vehicles, five of which were powered by fuel cells. The fuel cell Zafira left the grid at 9.09am on Saturday morning in Lugano, Switzerland, and reached the finish line in Monte Carlo at 4.44pm, after covering 259 miles. Its average speed was 50mph and the route took in cities and winding roads.

Driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who competes for Opel in the German Touring Car Championship, said: 'The route through the Maritime Alps was extremely demanding. What I found impressive was how much torque the HydroGen3 delivers right from the start. That was useful for the many overtaking manoeuvres and on winding passes.'

Dr Udo Winter, chief engineer at GM Fuel Cell Activities research centre, said: 'In terms of fuel cell technology, we are currently at a development stage in which it comes down to testing, particularly under extreme conditions.'

Last year, HydroGen3 travelled 6,000 miles over 38 days, setting a new world record for a fuel cell vehicle.

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