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FIA explains Rally1 roadmap as WRC prepares for two-year transition

The FIA has outlined further details as to how its vision for the future of the Rally1 class will take shape as the World Rally Championship prepares for two transitional years.

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The world motorsport governing body revealed an extensive concept for the future at Wednesday’s World Motor Sport Council, which will see the WRC undergo a myriad of changes to its technical and sporting regulations, beginning next year.

This vision, which aims to increase manufacturer participation and grow the championship, has been created by the newly created FIA working group, headed by FIA deputy president Robert Reid and former WRC team boss David Richards.

The current Rally1 hybrid-powered cars won’t see out the original five-year homologation cycle agreement that Toyota, Hyundai and Ford, through M-Sport, committed to. It has been decided that from next year the control 100kW hybrid units will be removed from the Rally1 cars, which will also have their performance decreased thanks to a reduction in aerodynamics and the air restrictor.

Removing the control 100kW hybrid kit will reduce the cost of the Rally1 car, currently priced at around 1 million euros, by approximately 150,000 euros, but teams will now have to re-design elements of their cars in time for the 2025 season.

These Rally1 cars will be eligible to compete in the 2025 and 2026 seasons. This will overlap with the introduction of new Rally1 regulations in 2026, which will become the mainstay for the category from 2027.

The 2026 spec cars will be capped at 400,000 euros and based around the current Rally1 concept but will feature a larger spaceframe chassis utilising a common safety cell to reduce costs and allow both manufacturers and tuners to develop cars. The chassis will be able to accommodate bodywork based on cars in the B class, C class, compact, SUV and concept car segments and will produce approximately 330 horsepower.

It is hoped this will entice new marques and teams to the top level. However, in theory, two slightly different versions of Rally1 car could be seen competing under the Rally1 class in 2026. While the FIA isn’t anticipating many 2026 spec cars for the first season of the regulations, the idea behind introducing the rules for that season is to allow the current teams time to prepare for 2027.

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Speaking in a media round table, including Autosport, Richards explained how the WRC will navigate this period of transition.  

“Clearly we are in a transition period now and we can’t throw out the rules,” said Richards. People have invested in the cars and manufacturers have invested in the technology and we have to be true to what we have promised them in stability, so we have to have a transition period. We have to accept the next two years will be a transition.

“As far as the Rally1 cars are concerned there has been some concerns on various quarters about the speed of these cars now and particularly the cornering speed with the hybrid systems and the aerodynamics.

“We decided to put a smaller restrictor on the car and reduce the power down to about 330 horsepower and take the hybrid system off. It [hybrid] was a good idea possibly at the time but it is too complex and too expensive, and it has created a big difference in performance from the Rally2 cars to the Rally1 cars.

“Those regulations will remain stable for the endurance of the current Rally1 regulations so those cars will remain in place for 2025 and 2026 and then we will introduce in 2026 a new formula based around the current Rally1 formula. It won’t be radically different, it will use a spaceframe chassis as Rally1 does today, it will be a larger space frame and the intention is that it is a common space frame for everybody.

“The idea is that we will consider the FIA authorising the tooling so instead of putting a tender out for a contract to make the spaceframes we will have a company make the tooling to FIA specification and then this can be made available anywhere in the world. They can buy the tooling and they can make the spaceframe, any tuner can make the spaceframe themselves and then buy the homologated bodywork from a car manufacturer to put on the spaceframe.

“It will be larger than the current one so it can accommodate slightly larger cars, the car that the manufacturers are promoting, and we are considering a control transmission as well to keep the costs down. Everything else on the car will effectively be the same as Rally2 today.

Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Toksport WRT Skoda Fabia Evo Rally2

Oliver Solberg, Elliott Edmondson, Toksport WRT Skoda Fabia Evo Rally2

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“Those regulations, and we realise that it is a tight timescale, will come in for 2026 and we don’t necessarily believe there will be many cars in 2026, but it will give an opportunity to come in during the course of the season and then 2027 it will be fully into that new regulation.

"You will have the existing Rally1 which continues for two years 2025 and 2026 and the new Rally1 regulations which will start in 2026. They are all Rally1 just new Rally1. They will be similar performance and I suspect that because the chassis will be slightly larger they might be slightly slower but it will be marginal I guess.     

“We have addressed most of the major concerns and we have tried to take the manufacturers with us in this process. I don’t think they will like every aspect of it, but it is a fair and reasonable process that we have gone through, and it will develop over the next two years. There is no magic wand, it is not suddenly going to be wonderful from tomorrow, but I stand to be judged in two year’s time.

“We haven’t got all the answers. These are our recommendations. These are the things we think are going to work, so let’s work together.”

The exact details regarding the changes for 2025 and 2026 onwards are expected to be ratified at the next World Motor Sport Council in June.

 

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