Jan Bot

Dreamteam: Forze Hydrogen Racing Team

After his first year at Applied Earth Sciences, Jan Bot (24) started as the driver for the Forze Hydrogen Racing Team; racing cars that run on hydrogen. This is how Jan unsuspectingly started a long career with Forze…

How did you end up on the Forze team and what is your role?

“When I was at secondary school I read an article in the Technisch Weekblad about dream teams. That sounded fabulous! Cars had always been a passion, I was a racing car driver in my spare time.” So Jan registered and started as a part-time driver. At the end of his second year, the entire team went to England to race in the Formula Student Competition. “The car hadn’t run all year. We only just managed to get it ready before the appointed time. I hit the accelerator and off it went. We were the first ever entirely hydrogen-powered car in an ordinary race!”

Gradually Jan’s tasks within the team increased. In his 4th year, he did his minor with the team in the field of hydrogen fuel cells. The board changes annually and in his 5th year, Jan decided to join Forze 8’s board full time as technical manager and treasurer.

What was your biggest challenge?

Until then the team had only driven hydrogen carts and hydrogen-powered Formula Student cars. “We wanted to build a full-sized, hydrogen-powered racing car and test it at the Nürburgring. That’s a tough circuit where car manufacturers test their vehicles. If it could work there, it would work anywhere. Nissan had already driven a prototype hydrogen car there before. We wanted to break Nissan’s record!”

That’s when the problems started. The car’s development was heavily delayed. After two years it still wasn’t running and the team lost its dream team status and main sponsor. “The biggest challenge was getting the fuel cell to work. A month before the deadline there was even more bad news; due to a deadly accident on the Nürburgring the local authorities no longer permitted record attempts at the track. “Two weeks later we had the car running. We had top racing driver Jan Lammers drive our car and secretly log his lap times during a normal track day. We were faster than the Nissan! Our car was the fastest hydrogen-powered car in the world!” The team’s dream team status was reinstated. The next challenge was to enter a Supercar Challenge race on Gamma Racing Day. “We wanted to demonstrate that we could keep up with conventional racing cars.” And Jan is going to drive.

What good does the Applied Earth Sciences study programme do you?

As part of the dream team, Jan learned why you really need the theories you are taught, in practice. “My study programme provided a good impression of the global economy. Basically, everything depends on raw materials. At the same time, you know an alternative to fossil fuels is crucial. Sustainable energy sources produce electrical power. That has to be stored somewhere. Batteries and hydrogen both have their good points and will be able to perfectly augment one another.”

And the future?

Jan is first going to finish his Bachelor. “I learned so much about the technology of hydrogen power. I’d love to make that my job. At Forze I discovered that work doesn’t have to be tedious, but can be incredibly fun. I went for it 100% and I want a job that I’ll do that for too. That’s why I can recommend every student to join a dream team after achieving their BSA. You may well decide on an entirely different career afterwards.”