Explained: The changes to Rally1 proposed for 2026

Here's everything we know so far about the WRC's new top class formula


After months of work by the FIA’s WRC Working Group, proposals for a new set of technical regulations for rallying’s top level are in motion. The headline news was the ditching of hybrid units – but there’s far more to it than that.

It’s important to remember that the proposed changes are just that: proposed. What the next generation of Rally1 car ends up becoming is very much up in the air and down to how the directives set out are then implemented via new technical regulations.

DirtFish was one of a select few international media outlets to get the inside track from WRC Working Group leader David Richards and FIA Road Sport director Andrew Wheatley on what the new regulations are intended to look like.

British Grand Prix, Silverstone 05 - 08 July 2018

Richards shed more light on the WRC Working Group's proposals in a call with the media on Thursday

Richards firstly explained the thinking behind the proposed changes to the technical specification of Rally1 cars: “My personal view, I think shared by most of the other group, is that we need to have a more level playing field, where a young driver coming from France, Germany, Finland, Italy, could buy a car or have access to a car of an equal standard to the factory teams,” he said.

“That is just not possible today. So we wanted to get back to a situation where that was a reality. You can’t stop the manufacturers from spending money. They’ll spend whatever the value is to them. And if somebody at the top of a car manufacturer says, I want to win the World Rally Championship, I will pay whatever it takes, that’s what will happen. And we must make the regulations such that spending money doesn’t make the difference. So that’s the challenge.”

Below is what the WRC Working Group has proposed to make that happen.


The new Rally1 formula will run alongisde the current generation cars in 2026

The chassis

Spaceframe chassis will remain as the basis for Rally1 into its second generation. But there’s a difference this time around, aimed at cost-cutting and ease of access for smaller tuners who wish to build a Rally1 car.

Teams currently design and build their own space frames. Under the new proposals, the FIA will work with a supplier they choose to develop standardised tooling for the manufacture of Rally1 chassis, effectively leaving teams to fabricate chassis to a predefined template.

The dimensions of these space frames will also be increased slightly relative to the current Rally1 cars, aimed at achieving closer alignment with the vehicles that car manufacturers are promoting.


The new regulations are design to cut costs and increase participation in rallying's top tier

The engine

Hybrid power will already be gone from the current Rally1 cars and won’t make a return in the next ruleset. Instead, engines will be capped at 330bhp, limited by both a restrictor and also a controlled torque curve.

The transmission

At present Rally1 manufacturers may use whatever transmission supplier they wish. However, this may change for the next ruleset, with the WRC working group “considering” turning transmissions into a control part.


WRC teams will likely have less technical freedom from 2026

What form that may come in remains unclear, while a single supplier could be an option. Richards himself suggested that the FIA may “nominate a number of manufacturers who will agree to build this transmission to a price.”

The price

Controlling spiraling costs is at the root of the overhaul. The WRC Working Group wants to free up budgets to be spent on promotion of the championship – and to do that requires cost control.

The cost of a current generation Rally1 car is close to €1 million. With the proposed changes, where “everything else on the car will be effectively the same regulations as Rally2 today,” according to Richards, the hope is to reduce total cost per car to “well below” €400,000 (US$433,000).

“I accept that’s still a lot of money,” said Richards. “But it’s in comparison with other motorsports. It’s achievable, especially when you consider it’s a world championship.”

The rollout

There will be a one-year overlap where the old and new Rally1 cars co-exist in 2026. Richards expects the older cars to be slightly faster. And he doesn’t expect there to be many of the new Rally1 vehicles developed straight away.

“We don’t necessarily believe there’ll be many cars in 2026, but it’ll allow people to come in during the season,” said Richards. “And then by 2027, WRC will be fully on the new regulations.”


Out with the old: the WRC's current crop of Rally1 cars will be fully phased-out by 2027

What that means for championship eligibility for the old and new cars respectively during this transition remains unclear.

Wheatley explained the current situation: “I think the eligibility for manufacturer championship points will change for 2026 and 2027. The idea of allowing the cars in 2026 is to get the teams up to speed with the new technical regulations. So it’s a slight change in what we’ve done in the past. Normally the regulations change, change, change. This will allow a little bit of transition between the two. However the eligibility for the championship changes between 2026 and 2027.”

More answers should arrive in June – courtesy primarily of Wheatley, who must now turn the new Rally1 directives into a fully fleshed-out ruleset.

“My job now is to take these these objectives and to translate them into the next step,” said Wheatley. “We’ve got some clear targets internally as to how we need to achieve that. And that’s now sitting on my shoulders.”