The World Rally Championship is “on course” for the introduction of its hybrid era next season, FIA rally director Yves Matton insists.
The WRC. will introduce a “state-of-the-art plug-in hybrid power unit” for 2022, with backing from all three manufacturers: Toyota. Hyundai and M-Sport Ford.
However the plans have faced delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Matton insists the programme is advancing at an “accelerated” pace to ensure it meets its deadline.
“The Rally1 hybrid project is a major landmark in the development of rallying and underlines the FIA’s commitment to sustainability and advanced technology,” commented Matton.
“Of course, any new product that is being developed encounters challenges. During the current test phase, there is strong collaboration between the FIA, the manufacturers and our technical partners. We are working as one to complete tasks that are synonymous with a development cycle of this nature.
“At present, we are operating an accelerated process due to delivery delays brought about by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic but with eight months remaining to the start of the 2022 season, we are on course.”
As part of the agreement, teams will use the same platform for three seasons as part of measures to control costs, whilst boosting the sustainability of the championship.
The Rally1 category will also showcase major safety breakthroughs with a new safety cage design, developed in collaboration with the manufacturers following an exhaustive analysis and crash test programme.
At present the new hybrid units are undergoing bench testing, initial units have been supplied to the teams for integration into their safety cell designs and private testing is also underway.