Potential unreliability of the new-for-2022 hybrid systems from Compact Dynamics was a worry, as it is with any new technology, during its World Rally Championship debut.
OK, not new technology. Hybrid as a powertrain has been around for nearly two decades now. But these units were new for rallying. They’d been designed from the ground up for Rally1 – so not only was the kit new but the cars they were being bolted into were untested in competition too.
There were lingering question marks over the reliability of the new kits after a fraught development process that included a round of recalls in April last year, followed by worldwide supply chain issues that caused headaches for manufacturing the parts associated with them.
Though some crews did report issues with hybrid deployment on occasion, there were no retirements on last week’s Monte Carlo Rally due to a systems failure with any of the Compact Dynamics-supplied parts, allaying fears that the new Rally1 machines might suffer reliability issues.
“The team worked hard over summer and through the autumn [fall] time, due to the very strong supply chain problems that everyone has right now all over the world,” Compact Dynamics chief Oliver Bamberger told DirtFish.
“To be honest, I think the result is quite good for the first hybrid WRC event.
“We brought five people to support everyone as much as we can. Every feedback from the team principals is that they’re also quite happy and delighted.”
Asked if the hybrid kits would need any immediate revisions after the first WRC event of the hybrid era, Bamberger replied: “No.
“Principally the development is frozen right now for the next three years. Of course, if we find some software bugs or anything else, we have to improve it. But this is a work I expect through the first two or three rallies.”
The integrity of the hybrid kits was also tested heavily during Adrien Fourmaux’s spectacular shunt where he hit a bank, flipping his Ford Puma and sailing over an Armco barrier before rolling down a hillside and coming to an abrupt stop.
The electric safety light, which is present on board all the new generation Rally1 cars, remained green throughout, indicating the hybrid system’s safety systems were not compromised in the shunt.
It was the latest in a series of crashes the Compact Dynamics kit has weathered of late, following Thierry Neuville’s testing incident where his i20 N Rally1 dropped down a ravine among others.
“During the test phase, we had two or three strong crashes, especially the Hyundai, which was in the river at the end of the day. But we are very happy because the systems are tight, we have no water inside, and principally they are OK,” said Bamberger.
“The shock loads are very strong. We have to check every component, of course, maybe to substitute one or the other battery cell or something, but principally the systems are running and that’s very good.”