FIA rally director Yves Matton says the World Rally Championship has a “responsibility” to educate all road users next year about what to do in the event of an accident with hybrid or electric cars.
For the first time in history, hybrid will be incorporated in rallying’s top-class regulations in 2022. The electric power will provide a boost to drivers on the stages, while cars will be mandated to travel in electric-only mode on specific road sections.
This new technology has raised some safety concerns though given electricity will be involved.
During Hyundai’s simulation test of its Rally1 car in Italy last week, Matton was asked by DirtFish if the FIA needed to educate rallying fans about the dangers of hybrid when spectating.
He agreed it was important spectators were aware of the dangers, but added the WRC had an opportunity to educate wider road users too as the number of electric and hybrid cars sold worldwide begins to increase.
“I believe that using hybrid in rallying is a really good tool to educate fans and, not only fans, to educate people around hybrid and electric cars,” Matton said.
“Because today if you start to speak about what happens on the highway if there is a crash with an electric car or hybrid car, I believe that maybe 90% of the people don’t know how to react.
“And then I strongly believe we have something to do, all the stakeholders, to start to explain how to react when you have something happening with this kind of car.”
The responsibility of all the stakeholders is to increase the level of knowledge between Monte Carlo and the last rally in JapanYves Matton
Hybrid technology has been around in world motorsport for some time. Formula 1 has used the technology since 2014, while hybrid power has been a part of sportscar racing since the inception of the World Endurance Championship in 2012.
Rallying has therefore lagged behind, despite the discipline having arguably the biggest relevance to the road-car market.
“From January we will have a tool in place that will allow us to do it and we have to do it,” said Matton, when asked if there was pressure to get the hybrid safety message out there now.
“But not everything will be ready in Monte Carlo and all the fans in the first stage will not be aware how to react.
“But what we can hope for, and in one way the responsibility of all the stakeholders around the World Rally Championship is to hope for, is that we increase the level of knowledge between Monte Carlo and the last rally in Japan.”