The time’s right for the talking to stop. Obviously, it’s got to start again before it can stop. But next time it stops we need an announcement. And yes, you’re right, an announcement would indicate the need for talking…
Wednesday’s World Rally Championship stakeholder meeting was slated to deliver the news that Compact Dynamics would be retained through 2025 and 2026 to complete the series’ first full five-year hybrid homologation cycle.
That didn’t happen.
While there was plenty of talking done, Hyundai is reportedly working to get Korean sign off on the post-2024 deal – but ultimately an announcement initially drafted for the week before Estonia remains on the spike.
DirtFish understands FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem will travel to Lamia to govern more debate and likely generate an outcome at Acropolis Rally Greece.
This needs to happen.
And should hybrid stay?
Frankly, as a sport, my feeling is that we’ve given this one too much headspace already. Arguably, this position could have been avoided with a five-year agreement from the outset, but there’s no point going over that again. We are where we are.
Ultimately, do we need hybrid?
Yes. Surely we do?
Yeah, but do we actually need hybrid?
Open the Rally1 door and whip out the carbonfiber box containing the motor generator unit, the battery and inverter and the cars will still have close to 400bhp. And they’ll still work.
I’m told, by folk far more technically minded than I, this could even be done in time for next month’s Acropolis.
Will they still be spectacular? Er, yes!
Granted, they won’t have the 130 electric horses every now and then, but conversely they won’t have the 87-kilo box and they’ll have less aero than the previous generation of cars.
And will they still be sustainable?
Don’t forget the World Rally Championship is the FIA’s championship fueled entirely by fossil-free gas.
I’m not anti-hybrid in the slightest. As I’ve pointed out here, I love the strategic approach deployment and regen brings.
M-Sport and Ford have famously pushed hard for hybrid, but I’m sure they could survive two years without a battery boost – particularly if there was some certainty coming beyond 2026. In many ways a non-hybrid Rally1 might have some appeal to those behind the Dovenby doors.
Selling such a pure ICE car to private drivers could be considerably more straightforward, shorn of the regulatory red tape that accompanies the sale and use of a hybrid car.
Let’s just have a decision.
And while we’re on the subject of decisions… how about we push forwards for what’s coming post-2026?
One of the proposals on the table for 2027 is a common engine across both Rally1 and Rally2. The performance difference between the two would be generated by a more powerful hybrid solution in the premier class.
Does that make sense? Quite possibly, yes.
Currently, the WRC is tying itself up in knots: is the future electric? Or do we turn to hydrogen? E-fuels anybody?
Here’s an idea… why don’t we stick with more of the same for the fuel. P1’s agreement to supply the WRC with its blend of bio and e-fuel (which means the combination of biomass feedstock, carbon capture and water electrolysis) is also up at the end of next season. Extending this is what’s largely known as a no-brainer.
And why not stick with P1 beyond 2026?
Yes, hydrogen. Yes, electric. But is either going to be a ready and workable solution within the confines of what we know a round of the WRC to be (ie. a sporting event that requires both road and stage mileage to be completed in the back of beyond)?
Rally Finland was a further reminder of what we’re doing already in rallying. Spending time with people such as Matias Henkola (Secto), Martin Popilka (P1) and Carlos Pina Vaz (LubriCan) was eye-opening all over again.
Sticking with hybrid wouldn’t be popular in all corners of the service park. You’ll have noticed the absence of a hybrid badge on the back of Toyota’s GR Yaris Rally1. That’s because Toyota doesn’t supply the hybrid componentry to the car. What if it did?
That’s another angle on the latest 2027 proposal: the manufacturers can produce their own invertors, powertrains and batteries. Plenty to talk about…