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  • Writer's pictureDrew Bentham

Rally 1- and Rally 2+ herald new changes to WRC


Rally1- on the horizon

And so the future of the WRC begins to take shape with new changes being outlined . Details are still to be fleshed out over the next year, but the working group set up to highlight the problems and issues with the top level has now come up with a framework for the future, which was ratified by the FIA yesterday.


Objectives include a far greater focus on PR, Marketing and Promotion of the Championship, and set a framework for changes to the sporting and technical aspects of the WRC to be developed. The WRC Commission has now been tasked with drafting concrete proposals, based on the WRC Working Group’s recommendations, for submission to the next WMSC meeting, with the new sporting and technical regulations for the 2025 WRC season and beyond to be published by the end of June.


 The WRC Commission representatives will also be taking into consideration the results of the WRC Fan Engagement Survey. The survey, which was commissioned by the FIA and received more than 11,000 responses, provided invaluable feedback on several topics, such as the format of rallies, car type and specification.


Changes in brief


Promotion


Another working group is to be set up called The WRC Promotion Team involving the WRC Promoter, event organisers and manufacturer teams. The WRC Promotion Team’s key focus will be to develop a WRC Charter that will define a set of commitments from all stakeholders to promote the WRC to a wider audience against an agreed set of objectives. This coordinated approach is intended to promote the WRC outside its current fan base as one of the foremost motor sport championships in the world.


Sporting


Event organisers will be given more freedom when developing the route of their rally. However, while the starting day of an event and the number of stage kilometres can vary, all rallies should finish on a Sunday with the Power Stage. The global calendar may include a small number of shorter sprint-style and longer endurance events in addition to the rallies that follow the existing format. Nevertheless, the overall timed kilometres covered during a season will remain largely unchanged with events still organised on a mix of asphalt, gravel and snow.


As part of cost-cutting measures, the target number of personnel of a three-car team will be capped in the future. The service park set-up will follow a new model with manufacturers allocated locally sourced structures as a working space. As well as saving costs and reducing the amount of transportation required, the move provides more flexibility, should the service park location change during an event. It also reduces the total area required for the service park by event organisers.


To allow organisers to adopt less rigid formats, reduce liaison section distances and spread the reach of events, remote service opportunities will be encouraged with teams permitted to carry limited parts in a small support vehicle.


Technical


The current Rally1 car will continue as the WRC’s flagship vehicle in both 2025 and 2026 but with modifications to reduce cost and performance. These include the removal of the plug-in hybrid unit, with the performance compensated by a reduction in overall weight, and a reduction in the air restrictor and aerodynamics.


From 2026, revised Rally1 technical regulations for the WRC’s top-level category will be introduced based on the current Rally1 concept. These regulations will run alongside the current Rally1 regulations for the 2026 season. These new rules will use a common safety cell to reduce costs and complexity, and allow manufacturers and tuners to develop cars with their own bodywork based on production models including B-class, C-Class, compact SUV or a Concept Car designed to tight technical criteria such as centre of gravity and aerodynamics in order to equalize performance.


The power output will be targeted at 330hp, with the engine performance controlled by a reference torque curve for all cars. Engine and transmission will be cost-capped and technology limited to Rally2 equivalence. Aerodynamic efficiency will be limited along with a top speed restriction to reduce development and cost.


Rally2 cars will continue in their current form for the duration of their homologation as the basis for national and international series. However, Rally2 cars competing on WRC events from 2025 and beyond will have an option to run with a WRC kit consisting of a larger restrictor, a larger exhaust, an optional paddle shift gearbox and a rear wing with the objective of reducing the performance gap between Rally1 and Rally2 cars.


The cost per car will be capped at €400,000 and WRC manufacturers will be required to make their cars available for sale directly from the finish parc fermé of a WRC event.


Worryingly, an electric category is planned to be introduced into the WRC that could utilise the new Rally1 safety cell and achieve parity of performance with Rally1 cars running on sustainable fuel. This plan did not yield anywhere near the desired result when it was introduced in World Rallycross, diminishing the series appeal in many fans eyes.


Analysis


As I sit here and write this, I can't help but think these new proposals are just a middle ground, not bold but safe. Safe as to not upset the manufacturers, to appease the fans. The current Rally1 regs have, in effect been split. Back we go to ICE power with the electric gaining a category in its own right. Rally2 getting a much needed boost too which is very good. With the loss of the hybrid unit, I would have like to have seen an increase in power to 400bhp as a middle ground, but perhaps that may come in time.


It's hard to have faith in an electric series, given the response World RX has had. There hasn't been a flood of new interest of manufacturers or independents and I can't see that anything will be different for the WRC. One thing I've noted is the lack of research the group has given to potential manufacture's. If the current fanbase is worth surveying surely a similar form of action should be put to the worlds car manufacture's too?

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