FIA rally director Yves Matton has confirmed the potential for another manufacturer joining the World Rally Championship during the upcoming hybrid generation of Rally1 cars.
Toyota and Citroën were the last manufacturers to join the WRC for a new campaign, with both former giants of the championship returning for the 2017 season. The French firm departed at the end of 2019.
One of the key driving factors in the WRC’s move to hybrid power for 2022 is to make the series more relatable for current car manufacturers and Matton told DirtFish he’s hopeful a new automaker will offer a shot in the arm for the regulation change.
“I believe by the end of the next homologation cycle we could have one more [manufacturer],” Matton said.
“We had some possibilities [sooner], but I have to tell you that COVID-19 is not helping us in trying to do some lobbying to try to convince some manufacturers to join.
“But I believe that we are able to attract some manufacturers – but it will not be in 2022.”
With Hyundai Motorsport’s 2022 car not yet signed off in Seoul, there’s the possibility that the WRC could be left with Toyota as the sole factory competitor next season. While Ford is working hand-in-hand with M-Sport in the development of its Rally1 car, it’s understood the Blue Oval hasn’t committed to a full factory return to the WRC.
The 2022 regulation change takes the WRC away from World Rally Cars for the first time since 1996.
In the last 24 years, manufacturer numbers have run as high as seven – between 1999 and 2002. In total, 12 different automakers have been officially involved in a World Rally Car programme in the WRC since 1997 (Citroën, Ford, Hyundai, Peugeot, Mini, Mitsubishi, Seat, Škoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen).