There’s some “sensationalism” with hybrid reliability – Millener

M-Sport's team principal thinks some of the pre-México concerns weren't fully justified

FIA ERC – Fia European Rally Championship 2023 at Fafe, Portugal

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener feels there was a little bit of sensationalism from some ahead of Rally México regarding the reliability of the Rally1 hybrid units.

In the lead up to last weekend’s event there were some concerns that the hybrid system would fail to perform up to its requirement given the high altitude stages were something that had not yet been experienced in the new spec of cars since their 2022 introduction.

This included Toyota’s technical director, Tom Fowler, having some reservations about the cooling given the thinner air at higher altitude.

But throughout the weekend there were no such issues relating to the reliability, and aside from some minor issues across the weekend – such as Thierry Neuville and Kalle Rovanperä complaining of losing their hybrid on SS5 following a heavy landing – the system performed much better than some originally thought.

However, Millener said from M-Sport’s point of view there were never any real doubts about the system given the amount of testing that has been done on the Rally1 cars.

“I think there was a little bit of maybe sensationalism from people hoping [for there] to be problems,” he told DirtFish.

“At the end of the day, the units are built to an incredibly high-spec standard. And we did a lot of testing in the last two years. Well, two years ago we did about a year’s worth of testing and last year it had a year’s worth of competition.”

Going further into his answer, Millener said the conditions thrown up by México prove the hybrid system is already at a good point in terms of endurance and that can only be a positive for the World Rally Championship.


“Yes, there have been some individual issues this rally, but it’s not a disaster. There’s not been anything across the board,” he said.

“I think from our perspective in that sense, it’s been no different to any other rallies to be honest. So the product, the physical product, seems to be capable of the harsh condition which is what we set out to do.

“So although there’s not much of a story for you from that, I think that’s a good thing for the sport.”