Fowler: Teams have created Rally1 heat issues

Its the way cars have been designed that's causing cockpit temperatures to rise


Toyota technical director Tom Fowler believes the dangerous heat levels aboard Rally1 cars this World Rally Championship season are a consequence of decisions the teams “have made ourselves”.

Temperatures inside the cockpit have risen this season, largely due to the position of the exhaust on the new-for-2022 Rally1 cars. While it was centralized on the previous generation World Rally Cars, the exhaust now runs to the right-hand-side of the car and therefore under the co-driver.

The issue had been noted in pre-season testing but first reared its head in competition on last month’s Rally Portugal where there were even instances of co-drivers’ race boots melting in the case of Craig Breen’s navigator Paul Nagle.

In the two weeks between Portugal and Sardinia some solutions were implemented with additional air vents added, heat deflecting material like gold and silver used on the roofs of the Hyundai and M-Sport Ford respectively and a different type of film used on the side windows.

But air conditioning – which had been mooted as a fix by some including Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala – was ignored in a bid to preserve performance.

So what is the answer to the problem?

“My answer to that is exactly what I put to the FIA and what I said to the drivers myself,” Fowler told DirtFish.

“How we’ve ended up in a place where the cars are too hot and the drivers are uncomfortable inside has come from decisions we have made ourselves.


“And I think it’s maybe easier for me to say that because I don’t believe that we’ve ever had a terrible problem at Toyota; I think in Portugal the car was quite warm inside, it certainly wasn’t dangerous.

“It’s difficult to comment on other people’s designs but we certainly took into account that this might have been a problem. We always take this into account because it was a problem in the 2017 car.

“Every time you have a car, you’ll have an exhaust which is 1000 degrees and it’s got to go somewhere. It’s not like we just put it anywhere, then afterwards find out that it’s really hot.

“We know it’s hot when we put it there, so it’s absolutely right that we didn’t put air conditioning in, it allows for air conditioning but I’m pretty sure that if I’d phoned any of the drivers at the start of the design [and said] ‘do you want any air conditioning or full horsepower?’ they would take the horsepower and less kilos.


“So I don’t think these decisions are the wrong ones. The one which is very obvious and the one which we definitely underestimated and was a mistake is the design of the roof mount that we went for was entirely guided by trying to recover some of the aerodynamic performance that we lost in the regulation.

“You see the previous roof vent and the one used for Sardinia, it’s smaller, it’s sleeker, it’s lower, it’s narrower, it’s everything.

“It’s a roof vent that takes the absolute minimum of air, puts it inside but keeps the rear wing as lit up as possible.”

The Rally1 heat topic is unlikely to dissipate any time soon given the WRC travels to the searing heat of Africa for Safari Rally Kenya next week.

But the teams are collectively still short of a sure-fire solution. Air conditioning may have represented that if it was a common unit, but as Fowler pointed out when it isn’t required by the regulations, no team was ever going to sacrifice power and add more weight.

So should the FIA have mandated that air conditioning be installed on all Rally1 cars?

“I don’t think anyone wants that,” Fowler replied.

“I think this is the position that other championships are in. Maximum cockpit temperature regulation, it also means that at some point, the FIA pulls you in and says you need to stop your car because the cockpit is one degree too hot.

“It’s not a situation the FIA wants to be in, we want to manage the situation ourselves.”

Words:Luke Barry