Rally

FIA pushing WRC to start considering next set of regulations

This year the WRC has undergone a regulations overhaul with the design and construction of all-new Rally1 hybrid machines powered by 100% sustainable fuel. 

It is the first move by the WRC to embrace a more environmentally-friendly future following in the footsteps of other motorsport disciplines, including the Dakar Rally, which welcomed its first all-electric entry from Audi this year.

While Rally1 enjoyed a successful rollout in Monte Carlo last month, the FIA’s new deputy president Robert Reid, a former WRC title winning co-driver, believes the WRC must already start looking to the future.

Reid admits that the WRC’s move towards hybrid is a good step but has arrived later than ideally anticipated.

“Certainly one of the things I have already said to the promoter is we need to start thinking now about the next car,” said Reid in a briefing with select media.

“We need to make sure that we continue to make steps. This is a good step we are making now. I would say we are probably are a few years behind where we wanted to be, but I don’t think the house is burning down.”

Asked what the future regulations may look like for the next homologation cycle, Reid admitted there are several options on the table to consider.

“It is tied in with the manufacturer and let’s see where the manufacturers want to go,” he said.

“It is clear that a lot of the industry is driven by probably political decisions as much as anything and it is going very EV. 

“I think there is a huge opportunity for the FIA and motorsport in general to be the test bed for lots of different solutions. 

“We’ve got hydrogen gas, we have liquid hydrogen, we have got hybrid, we have got EV and sustainable fossil free fuel. And E-fuel which is 100% synthetic, that is possible today, but is expensive, although that will come down in price. 

“We have got lots of different options and solutions for lots of different problems and different disciplines that we can adapt those technologies too.”

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

However, he believes the WRC going full electric is unlikely in the near future due to the current battery technology.

“I think with what we know at the moment it is difficult to imagine, but already battery technology is changing,” he added. 

“I know from driving a Tesla that you don’t get as much range when driving in cold conditions as you do in summer. Currently there are restrictions in terms of that. 

“I would say full electric would be disciplines that have a short duration and easy access to charging rather than a discipline that goes all over the countryside.”

Rally1 can still attract new manufacturers

One of the key principles behind the Rally1 concept was to provide a set of regulations that would entice new manufacturers to the WRC courtesy of more market relevant and environmentally sustainable rules.

So far only the championship’s three manufacturers Toyota, Hyundai and Ford through semi-works operation M-Sport have committed to the three-year Rally1 homologation cycle. 

While the rules are yet to attract a new brand, the regulations have resulted in Ford increasing its involvement and support offered to M-Sport to develop its new Ford Puma Rally1.

Although, realistically a new manufacturer would require a year to develop a car, should it wish to join the WRC, Reid is not ruling out the possibility that Rally1 could snare a new marque.   

“I wouldn’t say that I can’t see it,” he added, when quizzed about new marques joining the WRC by Autosport. 

“Ford is a good example; the regulations for this year have actually encouraged Ford to be more involved. I know a lot of people talk about two and a half manufacturers but it’s probably more [like] 2.7 or 2.8 now than it was previously.

“It’s very encouraging seeing all the manufacturers involved, embracing the opportunity of the new regulations and Ford, as a manufacturer, increasing their commitment because of it.

“You would certainly think from seeing that, that it would be attractive to other manufacturers.”

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