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WRC teams react to FIA’s vision for the future

World Rally Championship teams have offered their initial reactions to the FIA's radical proposed overhaul of rallying's top tier which will begin next year.

Grégoire Munster, Louis Louka, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1, Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

The extensive concept revealed by the governing body this week features a raft of significant changes to the WRC's technical and sporting regulations, alongside a plan to address the championship's promotion.

Perhaps its most bold decision is to remove the control hybrid units from Rally1 cars for the 2025 season, after hybrid power formed a significant part of the new Rally1 regulations introduced in 2022.

The current Rally1 cars, albeit without hybrid power, will continue to compete until the end of 2026, with a reduction in the air restrictor and aerodynamics. The exact details of the changes will be outlined and ratified in June.

The tweaks are designed to cut costs with the original Rally1 car attracting a price tag close to €1 million. However, the alterations for next year will likely incur an extra initial outlay of resources.

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.

M-Sport-Ford team principal Richard Millener has welcomed the direction from the FIA and is supportive of moves to improve event formats, but he does have concerns over the timeframes proposed to meet the targets.

"A lot of the stuff that they have mentioned about the events, the locally sourced service park structures, the flexibility of format and promotion are all elements we have all discussed and all agree on, so that will be great," Millener told Autosport.

Rich Millener, Team principal M-Sport Ford Rally

Rich Millener, Team principal M-Sport Ford Rally

Photo by: M-Sport

"I'm happy to say that with the technical regulations, there is a good clear direction in where they want to go. I think there will be some challenges along the way about how we integrate their ideas in such a tight timescale.

"But we have been set these goals now, so we have to work proactively. We have all been shouting that we want something done and we have some key points as to where we should be heading, and every stakeholder and anyone that has had some constructive criticism now needs to work together to try and find a common goal moving forward.

"We may not be able to deliver everything that they want but I don't think that is the goal. The goal of the working group was to stimulate some ideas and that has happened. We can't continue to be negative now, we have to be proactive."

"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.

"There are quite high levels of sign-off for some of that required and that will be a challenge. Whatever discussions we have next, that is the bit we need to look at. We need to brainstorm that and decide what we need to do on each element."

When asked by Autosport about the tight timeframe for teams to prepare for the technical regulation changes for 2025, David Richards, part of the FIA task force behind the future vision, said: "It is 10 months to 2025 and we will be looking to the teams to come back with their proposals around the aero changes, but I think all of them have accepted the amount of money wasted on aero for these cars could now be spent in better ways promoting the championship.

"Remember every pound we save in technical spend could be used to promote the championship."

Hyundai's team principal Cyril Abiteboul released a brief statement on Friday reacting to the announcement, claiming the manufacturer would need time to digest the proposed changes.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"Given their far-reaching nature, complexity and depth, it will take some time to consider and reflect on these extensive proposals from the FIA. We also look forward to receiving further details from the FIA to assist with this process," Abiteboul noted.

"To consider these proposals we will conduct a deep dive into our short to mid-term plans: this will take place between Hyundai Motorsport and Hyundai Motor Company.

"As part of this process, we look forward to further discussions with the FIA, the WRC promoter and our fellow WRC competitors."

Abiteboul had urged the FIA against making immediate radical changes and stated a wish for the current regulations to see out the homologation cycle given Hyundai had made a significant investment in hybrid technology.

Richards explained that while not all teams immediately agreed to the removal of hybrid, Abiteboul did support the departure of technology.

The FIA must now navigate a way to conclude its contract with hybrid supplier Compact Dynamics, which was extended until the end of 2026 last year.

"I wouldn't say they all wanted rid of it [hybrid] immediately, there are some issues to resolve with the immediacy of that. In principle they would all support the removal of it," Richards added.

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"We had a long chat with Cyril about that and he was fully supportive of removing the hybrid system but remember one of the big platforms for the World Rally Championship is sustainable fuels.

"This is a unique opportunity to promote sustainable fuels. That has to be one of the promotional platforms for the future."

Current world champion Toyota added: "The proposals outlined by the world council are wide-ranging and we look forward to having the opportunity to understand and discuss them in greater detail with all stakeholders as we seek to grow the sport of rallying for the future.

Considering TGR’s wider goal of achieving carbon neutrality through motorsport, we will look forward to seeing EV rally cars competing in WRC events in the near future. We also hope to find possibilities for hydrogen technology, either with FCEV or hydrogen ICE rally cars."

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