WRC looking at multiple future tech
By Jason Craig
Wednesday 1st February, 2023 - 1:56pm
The idea of using multiple forms of energy to help power cars in road- and stage-mode at rounds of the World Rally Championship moving forward should be explored, it has been argued.
Addressing the World Rally Championship’s inaugural ‘Innovation Forum’ at last week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the former President of Renault Sports Cars, Patrice Ratti, claimed adopting a variety of technologies made sense.
For the 2022 season, top-tier World Rally cars were rebranded Rally1 and married a turbo petrol engine with a hybrid unit in a move designed to align the sport more closely with current production models.
The engine itself runs on sustainable fuels and the energy recovery system can be used as a power boost during competition to provide emission-free motoring in towns and around the WRC service park.
At the 2023 season opener, it was confirmed by the World Rally Championship’s event director, Simon Larkin, that the updated Rally1 regulations, due for 2025, are set to be published by March and will be “an evolution, not a revolution”.
The bulk of the changes are expected to focus on the 100kW hybrid unit and how best to maximise the efficiency of the setup’s regenerative braking process while also increasing EV range on road sections.
Getting that and the revised Rally1 regulations right is considered imperative if further car brands are to be enticed to the series.
Alpine, Skoda, and Opel – the latter being part of the Stellantis Group – are some of the marques WRC representatives are understood to have held discussions with recently.
Looking beyond the current rules cycle, Ratti encouraged the decision-makers to look keep an open mind about how other technologies and how these can be tailored to reduce the sport’s carbon footprint in future years.
“Motorsport has always played a big role in developing future technologies – today even more than before,” Ratti told politicians, reporters, and mobility experts at the Innovation Forum – the first of a number planned for the year ahead.
“It is very important – as is, I think, the strategy from the FIA – to have different technologies in different championships.
“In the World Rally Championship, you have hybrid and renewable fuels. I think that is very good because we are going to see in real conditions how these fuels and technologies will perform.
“I think that, overall, it is a great strategy. And while nobody can say what will be the technology of the future, my bet is we will need several technologies,” added the former Renault Sport MD.
Toyota has been a torchbearer of hybridisation and according to Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal, Jari-Matti Latvala, showcasing these systems and how they can be transferred across from the motorsport arena to passenger cars continues to remain important to it.
“If they survive here, they should survive everyday usage,” said Latvala.
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