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WRC teams pushing FIA to keep current Rally1 rules for 2025

World Rally Championship teams have expressed their concerns to the FIA over the proposed technical changes for 2025 and a desire for the current rules to remain in place.

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

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Multiple sources have confirmed to Autosport that Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport have collectively written a letter to the FIA expressing a need for the current Rally1 technical rules to see out the original window from 2022 to the end of 2026.

In February, the FIA’s working group revealed its vision for the future of top-level rallying, including a raft of proposals incorporating changes to technical and sporting regulations, and the promotion of the category. The proposals will be voted on in June’s World Motor Sport Council meeting.

While WRC Rally1 teams have shown their unanimous support for proposed changes to the sporting side of the championship, the FIA’s plans to change the technical regulations for next year have been strongly opposed by drivers and teams.

Under the FIA’s plan, it intends to remove hybrid power from Rally1 cars and further reduce the car’s performance through a reduction in aerodynamics and air restrictor. The aim is to bring the performance more into line with Rally2 cars, which will be offered more aero and performance through an upgrade kit, to boost the overall entry lists of competitors.

Chief among the team’s concerns is the tight timeframe to enact these changes, with the proposed ratification of the regulations offering a six-month window to design, test and validate their revised cars.

Hyundai has been most vocal regarding its concerns with team principal Cyril Abiteboul stating this week that it would not be possible for the Korean manufacturer to “do a good job” next year under this timeframe.

Abiteboul also shared frustrations that his team has had to scrap a significant investment made in upgrades to its i20 N completed in accordance with the current regulations, that would be rendered redundant next year.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

Asked by Autosport if he had any hope the FIA would make changes to its plans for next year, before the letter was sent, he said: “We have expressed our opinion in December, in January and then February, verbally and in writing.

“At some point you have to simply deal with it and accept the governing body has made its mind and the one thing we need to understand is the aftermath of it from a competitiveness perspective.

“Hyundai is a very committed to rally and we want to be a serious competitor and we want to do what we need to do to have a competitive car against our competitors.

“We had good results in the opening rounds. I think we all agree that there were some favourable circumstances even if Thierry [Neuville] was remarkable in Monte Carlo.

“We know we still have a clear handicap against the Toyota and now we are facing a situation where this handicap has to remain for another two years.”

Speaking to Autosport last month, Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala admitted he felt some areas of the FIA’s vision were “too aggressive”, revealing that talks were already under way with the FIA to find a compromise.

“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,” he said last month.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“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.

“We have started the communication with the FIA and there are 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.”

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M-Sport-Ford team principal Richard Millener also previously shared concerns over the timeframe to undertake the technical changes for next year.

“In reality, that is going to be quite tight to have new aero rules [for 2025]. Teams are going to want to test, develop and understand them. It is a lot to do in 10 months and realistically it is going to be six months by the time we get things sorted and understand what the reduction in aero means and develop, build, create parts and test,” he told Autosport last month.

“There are quite high levels of sign-off for some of that required and that will be a challenge.”

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