The World Rally Championship’s new hybrid era represents a “marvellous opportunity” to make the series – and the cars that compete in it – relevant again to the watching public.
From this season until the end of 2024, cars in the sport’s top-tier will run a petrol-electric set-up comprising a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and a battery-powered 100kW e-motor.
As the buying public turn away from fossil fuels to greener vehicle ownership, it is hoped plug-in hybrid technology will broaden the appeal of the WRC, while also reducing its carbon footprint as it criss-crosses four continents in 2022.
A new sustainable fuel that has been developed by Irish-based company – P1 Racing Fuels – is another step taken by the FIA and the WRC Promoter to achieve a low carbon future.
Prior to the opening round of the new WRC campaign at Rallye Monte Carlo next week, all three of the manufacturer teams showed off the fruits of their labour at the official launch event earlier this afternoon.
While Hyundai Motorsport revealed the colour scheme for its i20 N earlier in the week, the other two squads – M-Sport Ford and Toyota Gazoo Racing – decided to hold back until the ceremony in Austria.
Among the special guests was new FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who was at pains to emphasise the significance of the new Rally1 rules.
“Today’s launch of the new Rally1 era is a very proud and significant moment for the FIA and entire rally family and I would like to congratulate WRC Promoter for delivering a great show at the start of the championship’s 50th anniversary season,” he said.
“The enthusiasm for the FIA’s new technical regulations has been very much in evidence in recent months and the event further underlined the momentum coming from the teams and manufacturers, with Rallye Monte-Carlo just a few days away.
“Beside the hybrid technology adding a new dynamic layer of performance combined with safety improvements, Rally1 cars will be using 100% sustainable fuel and work is also ongoing to achieve greater sustainability in the organisation of each round of the series. I look forward to an exciting season.”
WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel added: “This evening was a marvellous opportunity to showcase the WRC and exhibit the strong desire to create an environment where both fiercely competitive motorsport and the planet can thrive together.”