Top flight rallying will forever change at the end of this year, but it’s not going fully electric yet.
The WRC has fundamentally revised its technical regulations from next season. The top-tier Rally1 class for manufacturer teams will bring a substantial gain in crew safety, as well as more equality between competitors, due to a new design approach.
An even bigger revolution concerns the drivetrain, with hybrid technology mandatory for Rally1 cars. The plug-in hybrid unit including all necessary components and software will be common, with the potential for more freedom of development in 2024.
In the WRC’s first-ever hybrid powered cars, an electric motor works together with the proven 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Rally1 cars will have up to 100kW (134hp) of additional power available in certain situations.
The system also provides the opportunity to reduce emissions locally via full electric driving on road sections in built-up areas.
The unique Rally1 hybrid system has three principal modes: Full Electric Mode in which cars will have full electric range, Stage Start Mode when the system’s full power will be available, and Stage Mode in which teams and drivers will be able to create up to three personalised ‘maps’ to decide how to deploy the hybrid power.
Introducing hybrid has been a key part in ensuring Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford are fully committed to the WRC from 2022 to 2024.
All three teams are already testing their new cars, which will debut in competition at Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2022 season on 20 – 23 January.
Another milestone is the introduction of 100 per cent sustainable fuel, a first for any FIA World Championship.
Part of the FIA’s race-to-road strategy is to implement sustainable energy sources across its motorsport disciplines to reduce CO₂ emissions.
The renewable fuel from P1 Racing Fuels is a blend of synthetic and bio-derived components. This green fuel will be mandatory to all top-tier competitors at WRC events. In its development, P1 Racing Fuels will collaborate with global energy and chemical experts Aramco on the formulation of advanced-generation biofuels and sustainable synthetic fuels derived from captured CO2 and low-carbon hydrogen.