Sunday, July 14, 2024


The WRC will retain hybrid Rally1 cars until 2026, following an FIA U-turn

As previously reported, it was widely expected that the FIA ​​would reverse its February proposal to phase out Rally1 cars of their current form. The decision was ratified at today's WMSC meeting held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The February proposal presented by the FIA ​​working group was to phase out hybrid powertrains from Rally1 cars from next 12 months as a part of a plan to scale back the performance gap with Rally2 cars through reduced aerodynamics, a modified rear wing and a smaller air restrictor.

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This coincided with a proposal addressed to manufacturers to supply an optional modernization kit for Rally2 cars to extend their performance and enable some competitors to fight within the sharp end of rallies.

It was expected that this might increase the variety of notifications and ensure a smooth transition to the completely latest technical regulations in 2027.

Teams and manufacturers were strongly against changes to Rally 1 and Rally 2, which resulted in a letter being sent to the FIA ​​in April asking for the present regulations to be maintained.

The teams' principal concerns were the short time to revamp, test and approve changes to next season's cars and the indisputable fact that investment had already been made in the present cars to compete within the five-year homologation cycle [2022-2026].

“All stakeholders have agreed on the technical stability of the 2025 and 2026 FIA World Rally Championship seasons. The World Council has confirmed that, after extensive feedback and discussions, the WRC Technical Regulations for Rally1/2 cars will remain unchanged for the coming two years,” an FIA statement read.

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: McKlein / Motorsport images

“All stakeholders are working positively together on the direction of the regulations for 2027 and beyond, and there may be good consensus between World Council members and manufacturers on the important thing objectives, that are aimed primarily at increasing participation at the best level, as previously agreed by the FIA.

“The World Council strongly expects existing manufacturers to commit well prematurely to the long-term way forward for the game. These regulations will likely be submitted for approval on the December meeting of the World Council, allowing greater than two years for producers to comply.

“Following a transparent commitment of investment from the WRC Organizer, the FIA ​​will strengthen its team within the industrial and communications departments to increase its support to the Organizer and key stakeholders within the Promotion Working Group.

“Following the establishment of the WRC Sports Working Group, there will be a strong focus on sporting regulation management, with a key focus on increasing media activation opportunities and reducing costs for competitors. The final versions of these Sports Regulations are to be proposed at the October session of the WMSC.”

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem added: “The WRC is amazingly necessary to the FIA, it’s the head of rallying and I actually have had many conversations with manufacturers over recent weeks about its future direction.

“It is now clear that we all need technical stability for the next two years, but at the same time it is important for the FIA ​​that in ensuring this stability we receive the same positive commitment from the manufacturers.”

How did the teams and the WRC react to this decision?

Unsurprisingly, the response to the choice was positive from each the WRC promoter and the teams, with the previous describing the move as an “extremely important moment”.

“As a promoter of the WRC, that is a particularly necessary moment for us because from a technical perspective we are able to move forward with unity and consistency over the following two years, while investing heavily in latest and exciting ways to grow the game's following and deliver for our fans, said Jona Siebel , managing director of the WRC promoter.

Toyota believes this can be a move that can save teams money and provides them more time to deal with the 2027 regulations.

“This is very good news because if we think about this cycle, the investments made make sense to go through a cycle that usually lasts five years,” said Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala. “If we made changes now we would have to make a big investment, so it is a very wise choice to focus on stability and then introduce new regulations for 2027.”

Hyundai has been hit hardest by the turmoil, having had to leave plans to deliver an all-new automotive in 2025 under current regulations as a result of the uncertainty.

“We have been working closely with the FIA ​​over recent months and while all of us imagine that stability within the technical regulations for 2025 and 2026 is the appropriate thing to do, the very necessary governance steps taken will ensure a more unified and positive approach to short-term improvements and long-term breakthroughs that all of us agree on meets the needs of the game,” said team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

M-Sport Ford boss Malcolm Wison, pleased with the vote for regulatory stability, says it’s time to implement proposals geared toward improving promotion of the championship.

“This is a really positive step for us in the coming years,” Wilson said. “We have seen some good proposals in terms of promotion, marketing and event operations plans, and now the work needs to start to make these things a reality, and with a coherent proposal on the technical side, I think the scope is there to achieve our ambitious WRC goals.”

The FIA ​​also confirmed plans to increase its exclusive contract for the provision of Junior WRC cars with M-Sport Poland for the Ford Fiesta Rally3 EVO until 2025.

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