Hybrid power will be introduced into the top tier of the WRC next season and a new three-year agreement means the system will be developed with the FIA and the three biggest competitors working together, funding work done by Compact Dynamics and Kreisel Electric.
The announcement confirms Hyundai’s continued participation, which is believed to have been a topic of discussion at board level.
The main focus of the agreement for the Rally1 category, which has already received approval from the World Motor Sport Council and gone through crash-testing for the new safety cell, is “safety, cost management and sustainability”, according to an FIA statement.
“In this joint initiative, the FIA and WRC Teams are committing equally to the development of the hybrid technology,” continued the statement.
“In addition, the FIA introduces an innovative partnership model based on a three-year cycle, unlike the current annual commitment, which will offer better stability and planning opportunities as well as a new marketable asset for all parties. Through this model, the participation in the FIA World Rally Championship will shift in 2022 to a system of four slots, with each of the three current manufacturers and the FIA owning one slot.”
After doubt about the WRC’s future following the withdrawal of Citroen ahead of 2020 and the truncated calendar last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the news is a boost for the pinnacle of rallying and should ensure the continued fight between the three teams that have dominated since Volkswagen left the WRC at the end of 2016.
FIA President Jean Todt said: “The FIA World Rally Championship is on the brink of reaching an important milestone with the new-generation cars, Rally1.
“A switch to plug-in hybrid power reflects the latest trends in the automotive industry, at the same time making the sport more sustainable.
“The fact that all three of the brands currently involved in the championship committed for a further three years proves that world rallying is heading in the right direction. And this comes together with the transition to sustainable energy, which is one of the main objectives of the FIA and its Purpose Driven movement.”