Defending World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier says there is a “huge question mark” over how many Rally1 cars will run without reliability issues when they debut on the opening round of the 2022 World Rally Championship season.
Talking after his first day aboard a Toyota Yaris Rally1 car, Ogier said he’d watched with interest as the new-for-2022 hybrid regulations brought a significant challenge to the teams.
Such a significant change in the technical regulations could well, according to Ogier, impact next month’s Monaco-based season opener.
“Going to Monte Carlo there is a huge question mark for everybody and more uncertainty than ever going into this rally,” said the eight-time WRC champion.
“Watching around all that has happened in the tests recently, it’s going to be a big challenge at the beginning of the year to have a 100% reliable car for everybody – and using the maximum of the potential.
“It’s an interesting challenge for the teams. They have an even bigger part to play in the first part of the year and the guy which will have done the best job using this new technology and making it work 100% of the time will probably have the chance to score a good result at the beginning of the year.”
The teams have universally had issues with the introduction of hybrid technology, a move that is widely regarded as the biggest technical change in the World Rally Championship since the arrival of World Rally Cars in 1997.
They remain fearful of a Monte Carlo Rally route that offers no visit to the service park on the first two days of the season.
The event organizer, the Automobile Club de Monaco, has made a change to allow more team members access to the cars at the midday remote tire zone, but the crews are still severely restricted on what they can do in the event of a technical problem.
If the hybrid system fails on the cars, it can be isolated so as not to affect the conventional internal combustion power.
Ogier will only play a limited part in the beginning of Toyota’s title defense in 2022. He is looking to blend a World Endurance Championship campaign with a scaled down WRC program.
Toyota’s Yaris Rally1 Hybrid running continued on Monday with Takamoto Katsuta at the wheel. Katsuta went off the road briefly late in the morning, but was back in the car straight after lunch.