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Toyota boss Latvala feels parts of future WRC vision "too aggressive"

Toyota World Rally Championship boss Jari-Matti Latvala has welcomed the FIA's direction for the future of top-level rallying but believes parts of the vision are "too aggressive".

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

The world motorsport governing body revealed its proposed roadmap for the future of rallying last week, which included changes to technical and sporting regulations alongside a plan to improve the championship's promotion.

The vision includes changes that will be implemented from next year, chief among them the removal of hybrid power from Rally1 cars. The cars, introduced in 2022, will also undergo a reduction in both aerodynamics and the vehicle's air restrictor.

These cars will remain eligible to compete until the end of 2026 and will coincide with an overlapping introduction of new regulations that will form the basis of the Rally1 class from 2027.

The 2026 cars will be based on the Rally1 car concept, producing around 330 horsepower and capped at €400,000.

Reflecting on the FIA's vision, Latvala admitted the announcement contained "some quite big surprises" but in general the Toyota boss is glad to have a future direction and approves of plans for more variety in WRC event formats.

However, the Finn believes areas of the FIA's vision, including the changes proposed for 2025, have gone too far. The Finn has confirmed that teams are in communication with the FIA to find a workable solution for next year.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Photo by: Toyota Racing

"There were many things [announced]. Let's say there were some quite big surprises as well, but generally speaking, there is a lot of good things," Latvala told Autosport.

"What is important is that we have the right action and we know what to aim for now, which is helping everyone for planning and for the new manufacturers that want to look into possibilities to come to the World Rally Championship.

"But there is a couple of things which are too aggressive, and I hope we can communicate with the FIA and find a solution for these few ideas, so that we don't get carried away.

"For me the sporting side when I look over that was really good. A bit smaller service park and using remote services and maybe less people in the service to try and get the costs down which is very good. Overall thinking about the future concentrating on sustainability and carbon neutral fuel and even hydrogen, this is where the future is.

"Taking the hybrids out I think will definitely save costs because unfortunately the way it is when it is fitted in rallying it lifts up the costs quite significantly because it is not only the electricity and the software, but it is all the safety you need and to carry all the equipment."

When asked specifically about the changes for next year, the details of which will be fully revealed in June, Latvala added: "Ideally taking hybrids out will make the cars slower anyway.

"But at the same time changing the restrictor and aerodynamics all of this at one time is a bit too much because it means you need to start optimising the engine performance for the different restrictors and you need to do testing for the aero.

"I hope we can find a solution where we don't do that many things immediately for next year.

"For me just taking the hybrids out would have been enough and teams wouldn't need to do so much testing. We are limited with the testing but these days you can do simulation and you try to optimise everything that is possible.

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

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

Photo by: Toyota Racing

"We have started the communication with the FIA and there is now weekly meetings going on which is really good. All of the manufacturers are on board, so I feel our chances are really good to find a compromise."

Latvala also shared his thoughts on the 2026 regulations, which he feels are a step in the right direction, although he admits building a car to €400,000 will provide a challenge.

"At the moment the cars are too expensive and clearly this is the way we need to go and reduce the price of the car which is really good," he said.

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"The price target sounds good but I think it is not very easy to get to that price level, so we will see at the end how it will be.

"If you think about the Rally2 cars and the cost for them is about €300,000 these days, so if the Rally1 car is €400,000, I think what is more realistic is half a million in my opinion."

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