Understanding WRC Hybrid failures is high on the FIA’s priority list

The WRC’s new-for-2022 100kW hybrid unit came under scrutiny at Rally Sweden in February after Hyundai’s Ott Tanak was forced to withdraw from the event when his Compact Dynamics system went into battle for victory red light appeared.

According to the regulations, Hyundai had to park the car for safety reasons and face a 10-minute penalty while the i20 N was still operational and fighting for stage wins.

Following calls from WRC teams, new regulations regarding hybrid failures have been introduced, resulting in competitors receiving a two-minute penalty for each stage missed if a hybrid unit suffers a failure. The new rules will be available for the first time at this weekend’s Rally Croatia.

The rule changes have received mixed reviews from drivers and teams. Tanak believes there should be more focus on improving the reliability of hybrid units, while Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford agree the reduced penalty is a step in the right direction.

However, Hyundai has yet to get a full explanation for the fault with Tanak’s car, which Wheatley is keen to resolve from the FIA.

“Absolutely, I can promise you that having the engineering department understand what this position is is high on the priority list,” Wheatley said when asked by Motorsport.com if the lack of understanding of the hybrid unit failure was an issue be eight weeks further.

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

“It would be fantastic to open the top of the box and see a disconnected line and be able to put it back together and say that’s the solution. Unfortunately, the difficult ones are very rarely that easy to fix.

“And the situation with the penalty change was something that we started hours after that problem was changed in Sweden.

“Once this issue has arisen we have to find a solution because we don’t want to take a position where the sporting integrity of the event is questioned and we wanted to try to sit down with everyone to understand, collaborate, what was happening the best option for the future.

“There is no best option. The best option is that everything works all the time, but the reality is that there are mechanical components and unfortunately mechanical components sometimes break and that is part of development.

“But we are absolutely working on it and all suppliers and all partners are working incredibly hard on how we can improve the situation as we go forward.

“Each of these hybrid units on each of these teams had 30 days of testing plus the extra days. Tens of thousands of kilometers have been covered in the most extreme conditions with these units, but nothing compares to the start of the stopwatch.

“One can test and test and test, but once the timer starts all bets are off.”

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