A few days ago we saw the news that Audi was added to the list of brands that abandoned the German passenger car competition, the DTM, to take new directions towards cleaner disciplines such as Formula E. Now we see how the legendary World Rally Championship wants to avoid leaks as much as possible, confirming that in 2022 the first hybrid cars will start running.
One of the first brands that have confirmed its jump to systems that will combine a gasoline engine with an electric one has been Hyundai. They have indicated that they will participate in the new format that has even seen its name changed to Rally1.
Mounted on a tubular chassis, the new World Cup cars will keep the current 1.6 Turbo petrol engines and add a 100 kW (134 hp) electric motor. The new Rally1 hybrids will represent a leap forward in performance, emission reduction, and will offer a combined maximum power close to 500 hp.
Another novelty is the new WRC will follow in the footsteps of Formula E and will opt for a single supplier for hybrid systems. This will save development costs and guarantee equality and emotion that is often lost due to budget differences between teams.
Other measures have also been taken to this end: the turbo will be simplified, the number of engines available per year will be reduced, some mechanical components will be frozen in current specifications, and aerodynamics will be limited, with the aerodynamic appendages being prohibited. The suspension travel will be limited and the shock absorbers simpler. The cars will maintain all-wheel drive but with a simpler transmission system with five speeds and no active center differential.
“Hybridization is a necessary step forward.”
The 2019 WRC champion and official Hyundai driver, Ott Tänak, has valued the changes: “With the same engine, we will maintain the same power. The challenge, with the introduction of the electrical system and batteries, will be to keep the weight as low as possible so that the cars are fast. They will be entertaining if the weight is reduced with the specifications that have been adopted.”
For Andrea Adamo, Team Principal at Hyundai Motorsport, “Hybridization is a necessary step forward, because rallies have always been a testing ground for car brands in the most difficult situations and conditions. Having hybrid powertrains is the best way to keep rally cars up to par with streetcar technology, so it’s good that we finally have them. The goal is to avoid spending too much money, so the key is to use common components for everyone. We will have to find a way to make a good car and the best strategy to obtain the maximum potential, but the people who work at Hyundai Motorsport are prepared to face new challenges.”
Now it remains to be seen if these changes are enough to maintain the teams as well as the attention of the public in a movement that from our point of view should be accompanied by the launch of a “Box 56” type system, like in Le Mans. Giving space to a team that participates with a 100% electric car will serve as an experimentation base to know the potential of battery-powered systems that do not stop evolving and are achieving milestones, such as ending the pit stop in the Formula E to change cars.