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FIA sets out timeline for WRC future regulations roadmap

The FIA intends to set out its roadmap for the World Rally Championship’s future regulations by the end of the year once consultations with manufacturers have been concluded.

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

The world motorsport governing body is keen to establish the WRC’s future pathway for the next three to five years following the launch of its new-for-2022 Rally1 hybrid ruleset, set to run until the end of 2024.

Rally1 is the first step towards more sustainable future for the WRC with the regulations focussed around all-new hybrid vehicles capable of producing 500 horsepower in short bursts, that are powered by fossil free sustainable fuel.

The hybrid regulations were originally devised as a way to attract new manufacturers to the WRC, and while Toyota and Hyundai have renewed their commitment, and Ford has stepped up its support offered to M-Sport, a new marque is yet to enter the fray.

The FIA is keen to expand the amount manufacturers at the top of the WRC with new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem stating that “two and a half manufacturers is not enough” in December.

At January’s Monte Carlo season opener Ben Sulayem's deputy Robert Reid, a former world champion co-driver, revealed that the FIA was already starting to think about its next set of regulations, expected to begin at the end of the current three-year cycle in 2025.

Since January the FIA has been working to understand the next step forward for WRC that has included a consultation period with European-based manufacturers, that is expected to be concluded within the next month.

A consultation period will then be held with manufacturers based outside of European before all the information is processed to allow the FIA to compose a roadmap for the future of the WRC.

“The intention is to process all of that data in September and then to make a roadmap as to what the next three to five years look like,” FIA rally director Andrew Wheatley told Motorsport.com.

“We believe that is our timescale and working with existing partners, they are on speed with that.

“The manufacturers are getting pretty comfortable and have a lot more experience in how to run and manage these [Rally1] cars and understanding what could be an option going forward.

“If we assume that the safety cell is here to stay and transmission, suspension and brakes, we are looking at what tweaks could we do, and that is the consultation we are going through right at the moment.

“I would expect that once we get move to around New Zealand (September) we should be in a position to compose where the next steps will be and it will be confirmed by the commissions before the end of the year.”

 

Photo by: M-Sport

Speaking to Motorsport.com earlier this year, Wheatley predicted the next ruleset would see 80% of the current Rally1 regulations carried over instead of a complete revolution.

In recent months, Alpine, Skoda and the Stellantis Group, which owns Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands, have declared their interest in joining the WRC, if regulations are changed, with at least two marques keen for a more electric-based future.

According to Wheatley consultations with European manufacturers have so far been encouraging. But he stresses the key to attracting manufacturers is to provide an arena for a marketing opportunity alongside a customer rally car sales programme across the varying WRC classes.

“I think you have got to take rally as a 100% activity. You can’t just look at Rally1, Rally2 and Rally3, you have to look at the whole pyramid,” he added.

“One of the things we have at the moment is we have interest at every level. We have got people actively developing new vehicles across the board. I think that is giving manufacturers the opportunity to look and see that it is not only a great way to sell our brand, but a great way to turn into a commercial entity.

“Chatting to some of the manufacturers around Europe, rally is no longer just a marketing activity. It is a marketing activity and customer sales operation. If there is a customer sales operation that underwrites or is a positive way to support a programme that is what sustainability for us is all about, it gives us an opportunity to turn it into an industry.

“If you have just a marketing activity, you are at the whim of the marketing people which can be positive with things like hybrid technology and fossil free fuel. If there is a customer activity it has a lot more longevity through selling rally cars to customers whatever the step of the pyramid.”

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