The world motorsport governing body expressed in January its wish to finalize by the end of this year the regulations that will shape the future path of the WRC from 2025 onwards.
This season, WRC has introduced new Rally1 Hybrid regulations, which represent a significant change from the previous rule set and a first step towards a more sustainable future. The regulatory cycle is scheduled to run until the end of 2024.
Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport-Ford have committed to building all new cars based on a stronger and safer space frame chassis, powered by a 1.6 liter internal combustion engine rated at 100 kW -Hybrid unit is combined and produces 500 hp in short bursts.
The vehicles use 100% sustainable fuel and also feature a reduction in aerodynamics and suspension travel, while trick center differentials have been removed.
The regulations were originally developed to attract new manufacturers to the discipline, but the rulebook has yet to bring a new brand to the fray.
FIA Vice-President Robert Reid stressed in Monte Carlo in January that it was important for the WRC to chart its future direction, which had led to the FIA consulting with manufacturers currently involved in rallying and those who are out of order this year out its new menstrual cycle.
Rally Director Wheatley has been heavily involved in the deliberations and says the FIA is still aiming to present its roadmap for the future by the end of the year.
“I would say 70% as a percentage,” Wheatley told Autosport when asked for an update on how close the FIA is to their plan for the future.
“We’ve interviewed a lot of manufacturers involved in WRC, we’ve spoken to a few manufacturers involved in the rally in general.
“We have also had some discussions with manufacturers who are not involved in the WRC to try and understand the direction the automotive world is going when we are talking about WRC relevant vehicles.
“There’s a lot of feedback and opportunity, it’s clear nobody has a very firm view or idea of what the future will be like.
“So what we are aiming for at the moment is to put to the World Motor Sport Council a proposal for a vision of how the WRC will look in the future to make sure we have a clear view.
“Definitely everyone [we have spoken to] looks forward to the future because there are so many chances and opportunities.”
Gus Greensmith, Jonas Andersson, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
It seems that the most pressing issue, and possibly the biggest change to the current rules, concerns the method of propulsion, with the FIA currently being generally happy with the performance of the new Rally1 car.
This year, WRC witnessed prototypes of future rally car concepts with demonstrations of an all-electric Hyundai Kona, developed by former Hyundai WRC works driver Hayden Paddon in Rally New Zealand, and the hydrogen-powered Toyota Yaris in Ypres Rally Belgium.
“What we do know is that the core of a Rally1 car, that’s the safety cell, the aerodynamics, the suspension, the brakes, 75% of that car isn’t going to do anything else,” added Wheatley.
“We know these parts work really well. What could change is either the fuel that goes into the engine, or whether it’s an electric motor or a thermal engine.
“The flexibility that we have with the current format, whether it’s through scaling to make the car competitive in an environment or it’s the flexibility that the safety cell gives us, I think we have at the moment some basics covered.
“Now the task is to find out what the cylinder looks like.
“If you look at the fossil-free hybrid car that we have now, the electric Hyundai and the hydrogen car from Toyota, the future is somewhere in that area. The question is where?”