Bringing the World Rally Championship’s top class cars to a level equivalent to Rally2 with the 2022 regulations could help bridge the gap between the sport’s current stars and those rising through the ranks.
The technical rules behind the next generation of cars have already been agreed on with the FIA, with a drop in the levels of transmission and suspension technology but the retention of the 1.6-liter turbocharged engines. There are some in the championship urging the governing body to revisit that discussion with a further view to looking at a Rally2 (formerly known as R5) engine in an effort to cut costs further
One of the perceived benefits to this – and to the lower levels of transmission technology, including the absence of an active centre differential – is that it would lessen the step from the WRC2/3 classes up to the Rally1 car in the main WRC field.
Some drivers have struggled with the step up to World Rally Cars, and six-time world champion Sébastien Ogier said he could understand the thinking behind the rule change argument.
Ogier told DirtFish: “There was an adaptation [from one car to another] when the last time we changed, in 2017, as the cars got much faster due to power and downforce. You had a bit of adaptation to do. But probably to go kind of a step back this time in terms of speed or, say, strength of the car, would be more challenging to adapt for our drivers and it will maybe give an opportunity to the young drivers to make a step forwards quicker.”
The popular thinking is that new regulations will have an impact on driving styles, as M-Sport’s Esapekka Lappi explained to DirtFish, with the loss of some of the strength of the cars forcing drivers to rethink lines of attack on the rougher rallies on the calendar.