Opel Motorsport wants to build a car to Rally2 regulations, but only if hybrid powertrains are added to the category’s ruleset in the future.
Jörg Schrott, Opel Motorsport’s boss, has already broken step with the traditional rallying playbook by heading up the development and launch of the first ever production electric rally car, the Opel Corsa-E.
Now the Stellantis brand’s motorsport division – part of the same automotive group as fellow Rally4 manufacturer Peugeot and Rally2 marque Citroën – is pushing for hybrid rules in Rally2, with the aim of producing a car for customer use.
“We are fighting for this, yes,” Schrott told DirtFish, when asked if Opel was pursuing a Rally2 program.
“Opel will only do racing when it’s sustainable, this is a clear goal of the company. It has to be electrified.”
It is not the first time Opel has plotted a second-tier rally car. Preparation firm Holzer Motorsport built a Corsa R5 concept car in 2017, which was intended to be the next step up in the Opel ladder from its Adam R2 offering.
“It was always our plan to fulfill the top of the pyramid with the Corsa R5, which in the end was not approved by the Opel board,” explained Schrott.
While Opel was the first manufacturer to produce an electric rally car, Schrott indicated there was no interest in a fully electrified Rally2 formula, citing a number of factors that made a hybrid ruleset more appealing.
“It’s always a balance between the technology opportunities. In the end it must be affordable to the customer,” he said.
“If it comes to higher classes, you also need to think about the whole process. It’s a business model on the one hand, on the other hand, you have to provide the right technology, the right performance and the right power of the car.
“Therefore, the next step if it comes for the highest level of customer racing in the Rally2 car, I think an electrified car – not a fully-electric car, but an electrified car – would be the right step for the next homologation.”
When asked to clarify what he meant by an electrified car, Schrott defined it as “a combustion engine connected to a battery package”.
Hybrid technology was originally scheduled to be introduced to the WRC2 category by 2023 but those plans were later shelved as the existing manufacturers preferred to focus on sustainable fuels instead.
FIA homologations for the current generation of Rally2 cars – the Citroën C3, Škoda Fabia evo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20 N and Volkswagen Polo GTI – are all set to expire between 2025 and 2027.