The current-generation World Rally Cars look increasingly likely to keep a low-key presence in the World Rally Championship next year.
The current cars had initially been outlawed for 2022 for fear that they could have outperformed the new hybrid Rally1 cars. But as reported by DirtFish in May, discussions have been taking place to see if there was a way they could still be accommodated.
And it would appear progress has been made on that front, with M-Sport team principal Richard Millener indicating a plan is now in place.
In a bid to ensure that the outgoing WRC cars will never be in a position to outpace their successor, the performance of the current cars is set to be neutered.
“I know what’s been talked about and what will happen with them,” said Millener.
“As far as I’m concerned they will be here in some form next year. There will be a slight adjustment to the power.
“Ultimately it would not be good for anybody if Rally1 cars will be beaten. I don’t think they will to be totally honest, even if you took the cars as they are now.
“I believe the Rally1 cars are pretty good in terms of performance.”
Manufacturer teams will not be running WRC cars anymore as top-line focus switches to the new Rally1 machines.
The old cars will still be around but like with anything, at times you've got to move onRichard Millener
“There will be some regulations put in place I believe to ensure that [WRC] cars are there and able to be used but it’s for privateer drivers, not factory drivers.” Millener said. “That’s a very sensible and fair way of looking at it.”
He made clear that M-Sport’s priority for customers was to get them in the new-spec cars, rather than seeking clients to continue fielding the WRCs.
“Our intention is to run customer cars in the new Rally1 category,” Millener underlined.
“That’s why these technical regulations were built up, to make the cars simpler and more affordable in a lot of areas.
“That should hopefully allow us to have more Rally1 cars, which we all know has been missing over the last few years.
“The old cars will still be around but like with anything, at times you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to look to the future and not to the past.
“So the cars are there and they can be used, which is great, but the future is still hybrid cars and the new set of regulations, and that’s what we’ll be concentrating on.”
Despite the likelihood that WRC cars will remain a present in the championship, Millener believes that most of the gentlemen and privateer drivers that have used the current cars in recent years “will actually be more interested in driving Rally1 cars than the current ones”.