FIA stands firm on 2022 rules despite reconsideration calls

Matton says clear Rally1 formula needed to make WRC work for manufacturer stakeholders

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FIA rally director Yves Matton insists the 2022 Rally1 regulations will not be revisited, despite a groundswell of opinion from drivers and some teams who feel R5 cars could be the base for the World Rally Championship’s next generation.

In a recent DirtFish Debates episode, world champions Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak were both keen to see the FIA check back on the specification of 2022 Rally1 cars and the costs involved with the production and running of them.

Both fear the impact of the global economic of the current coronavirus pandemic on car manufacturers and the knock-on effect on their rallying programs.

Matton told DirtFish the FIA remains focused for the first ever hybrid generation on delivering cars priced at €500,000, making them cheaper than the World Rally Cars introduced in 2017.

“Since the beginning of the year we have been working with the team principals to bring back the Rally1 car at a level of cost and running cost that is close to the generation of World Rally Cars before 2017,” said Matton, “to still have a very spectacular, efficient, exciting car but with the running cost [that] could be a business case for the manufacturers, and which could also be a car that would be run by some privateers.”

Discussions over the 2022 cars took place throughout last season, and Matton added that he felt the FIA had reached a set of rules which met with the sporting and commercial requirements laid out by the teams.

He added: “I think that with the [2022] regulations we have we achieve it – we highly decrease the price of the car.

“We had to make some choices, sometimes not easy on the technical points of view and maybe not so exciting for the engineers, but at the end the main target we fixed at the beginning of the year was reached in my eyes.”

Asked directly if he would reconsider the rules, Matton’s answer was firm.

He said: “No. There is also something that is important to tell again: the World Rally Championship is a Pro-Am championship.

“It means that manufacturers are involved and I think, not only for the FIA, but for all the different stakeholders, there is a wish to keep the manufacturers involved in the championship.

“It’s the highest level of rallying and we want to have the manufacturers involved. And what the manufacturers want, for the moment, is a regulation we produced together with them.

“We have had weekly technical meetings with them for a long time to be sure that we work closely to define what they need as a marketing tool.

“That’s the reason we will not change this regulation, because we are working together and everybody wants to keep the manufacturers involved in the World Rally Championship.”

Matton pointed out that the R5 cars’ Rally2 framework remained the reserve of privateer, career and gentlemen drivers, and he questioned the sense in having manufacturer drivers competing against privateers – hence the split between WRC 2 and WRC 3.

He said: “I feel the success of Rally2, which is a car for privateers and gentlemen drivers, needs to be maintained like it is, to make sure that tomorrow these privateers still have a car that they can drive and run at an acceptable level of cost.

“I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to mix it, manufacturers and privateer customer racing.

“The success of Rally2 for the moment is because it’s customer competition. If tomorrow you mix customer competition and manufacturer competition, there is a lot of chance that the customer competition will suffer from it.

“It’s not only that [WRC 2 and WRC 3]; I’m not talking about the championship, it’s about the cars. Sometimes you have people say: ‘OK, a solution could be to say tomorrow we have only Rally2 cars and no Rally1 cars’.

“I don’t think it’s an option that will be sustainable for the championship and, for sure, for privateers.”