Why 2027 has to return rallying to the people

DirtFish's Jon Scoltock argues that top-level rally machinery should be more relatable to production models


We’ve gone too far. Rally1 crossed a line. We’ve forgotten who we are, where we come from. Yes, rallying is about pushing boundaries, but it’s also about accessibility. It’s motorsport for the people.

Rally1 missed the mark. It’s expensive, unrelatable, and hasn’t attracted manufacturer attention. The cars have essentially become prototype buggies; closer to what you might find at Dakar than anything you’d see in a supermarket car park.

The halcyon days of rallying lightly modified production cars may be long behind us, but top-level rally machinery still has to possess a marketable connection with a product or brand. Whether the future is based around internal combustion, electric motors or both, that remains a fundamental tenet of the sport.

Before we get too far into that however, there is a very large elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

The harsh reality is that any substantive regulation changes for 2025 were impossible. A kneejerk reaction could have caused a crisis the WRC can ill afford. Staying on the current course until the end of 2026 is the right move. Rally1 has to stay – for now.

Beyond that, laser focus should be placed on what lies ahead. The cars that roll over the ramp in Monte Carlo, 2027 need to redress the balance. They need to be high-tech but affordable. Exciting but relatable. Crucially, they need to offer better value for everyone involved.

There is of course a category that has achieved this almost impossible balancing act: Rally2. It is the obvious solution, and one that has been staring us in the face for a decade.

Rally2 cars are still thoroughbred machines, but enough production car DNA remains to ensure they are relevant to fans and affordable for privateers. They represent exactly the type of common-sense approach that should underwrite what comes next.

That’s not to say there are no positives to be taken from Rally1. The spaceframe chassis represented a significant step forward in safety, and lessons from it should absolutely be incorporated into the next generation of cars, regardless of how they are constructed.

Ultimately though, for all its speed and technology, Rally1 (and the 2017-2021 World Rally Cars before that) have demonstrated that engineering prowess needs to be balanced against meeting the needs of stakeholders.


Toyota's GR Yaris Rally2 can be just as spectacular as the Rally1 version

By contrast, Rally2 has proven itself again and again. The fundamentals of the regulations are well thought out and could easily be tweaked to improve safety and incorporate new powertrains. All while maintaining the value that people have come to expect from it.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, but a slight evolution might be required. Rally2 works, but its future in its current guise might be limited. There’s a reported issue of declining focus on B-segment cars and limited shelf life for the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Škoda’s Fabia (the Ford Fiesta’s already gone). Countering that, sales of Peugeot’s 208 and the Renault Clio remain strong. There’s no denying the push on SUVs and crossover platforms, but maybe it’s a touch early to condemn a complete category of car.

Somehow we need to learn from Rally1 – both in terms of safety and limited manufacturer appeal – and bring the sport back to the people from 2027 onwards.

We went too far, but it’s not too late to come back.