The new lower-cost, four-wheel-drive Rally3 formula is likely to replace Rally2 as the top level of competition in several continental and national championships in the near future, according to those in charge of regional rallying at the FIA.
Despite the success of Rally2 – the FIA estimates around 1000 cars have been produced since its introduction as R5 in 2012 – some championships have struggled to maintain a high number of entries in their respective premier classes.
Rally3, which will be introduced at the start of 2021 as a new step between Rally2 and Rally4 (formerly R2), has been assigned a maximum purchase cost of €100,000 ($118,000) by the FIA, almost half that of the prescribed cost of Rally2 cars.
The FIA is targeting continental and national championships where the cost of Rally2 cars are currently considered prohibitive as key markets for the new Rally3 cars, according to its regional rally category manager, Jérôme Roussel.
“Rally3 was really created to have more FIA [homologated] cars outside of Europe,” Roussel told DirtFish.
“I take care of the African championship for example and there are only one or two Rally2 cars.
“After that, we have all Group Ns but the guys with Group Ns feel they cannot compete against the Rally2 cars, so the championship is not very balanced.
“We could consider moving the championship to Rally3 because we know that we could have 10 or 15 people able to buy Rally3 cars and have a proper fight, because at the end that’s what we need.
“If I take the example of the CODASUR [South American] championship, we have 15 Rally2 cars, so I don’t think that would be a good direction to take there.
“APRC is another example. If in APRC we don’t have any Rally2, then I think Rally3 would be perfect for the development of rallying in this region.
“Rally3 will be used in national championships, will be used in regional championships, but also this is a category we want to see at the top level in the framework of the WRC also.”
Most European-based national championships currently utilize Rally2 as their top-level class to varying degrees of success, and Roussel said he expects those that struggled for entries before the COVID-19 pandemic will look to switch to Rally3 as their primary category.
“At the moment we are in a period where everything is changing very fast all the time,” said Roussel.
“Money has always been an issue in motorsport, but it will not be easier in the next years. So maybe it’s a good solution.
“If you struggle with your national championship and you have only two or three Rally2 cars, maybe it’s good to consider switching to Rally3, where you will have more people involved to offer themselves this kind of car.
“But if I look at the French or Italian championship [for example], I don’t think they will move in that direction.”