While governments the world over have been committed to electrifying the cars of the future; the FIA has been considering where the future lies for motorsport. The future in the World Rally Championship has become a whole lot clearer with Ford, Hyundai, and Toyota all pledging their allegiance to the WRC from 2022 to 2024, with 2022 seeing the beginning of the Hybrid era of the World Rally Championship.
The development of this new era of WRC car has will be co-funded by the FIA and the manufacturers themselves. The key areas of focus for said development are sustainability, safety, and cost management. The latter of these three always being vital to ensuring the longevity of premier International Motorsport. The proposal of Hybrid WRC Vehicles came about back in 2019, and since then the Manufacturers, Series Promoters, and the FIA have been collaborating to come to this conclusion, with the new technical regulations being signed off this month at the World Motor Sport Council.
Hyundai has confirmed their contender will be based upon the i20n hot-hatch that is due to hit showrooms this year. M-Sport Ford and Toyota Gazoo Racing have yet to determine what road-going vehicle they will base their challengers on. The Fiesta is soon to get the Hybrid treatment for the road so expect M-Sport to continue with using this model as a platform for WRC success. Toyota has Hybrid running through their DNA so what route they go down is anyone’s guess.
The Hybrid powertrain is a massive step for the WRC and to some may be seen as long overdue when you consider the route of other flagship series within the FIA. Formula 1 has been flirting with Hybrid powertrains for over a decade and the same can be said for LeMans Prototypes. Formula E has been running for some time and FIA World Rallycross is going electric from next year onwards. However, despite this, WRC has reached a major moment in its history and WRC Promoter Managing Director Jona Siebel has had this to say:
“It’s no exaggeration to say the introduction of sustainable hybrid technology for the WRC’s headline category marks one of the biggest milestones in the sport’s history. It’s fitting such a major progression will be welcomed in the championship’s 50th anniversary season. Along with the FIA and the manufacturers, WRC Promoter is fully committed to the introduction of greener cars.”
The importance of this moment was reiterated by M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE,
“It’s always been important for our sport to move with the times, and this commitment to hybrid technology aligns the future of rallying with Ford’s global commitment towards a more sustainable future.
Hyundai’s WRC Team Principal Andrea Adamo said:
“Hyundai Motorsport exists to support the global objectives set by Hyundai Motor Company, by offering a credible platform to showcase current and future automotive technology. Through racing and rallying, we are able to influence and give direction to development of tomorrow’s Hyundai road cars; this is a real honour and a role we take incredibly seriously.
“We are therefore pleased to support to the future direction outlined by the FIA and the WRC Promoter with the new hybrid regulations from 2022. We will develop our car around the Hyundai i20 N, which itself was inspired by our WRC success to date. As two-time champions, we welcome the new challenge and look forward to flying the Hyundai flag into this new era.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing has yet to comment on this new era, but it is clear the excitement amongst the Manufacturers of WRC is palpable. For now, the next three years in the Championship are set safely in stone, and fans of the sport will be eager to see how the Cars of this era turn out.