Next year’s Rally1 cars will make the World Rally Championship more relevant and more attractive to car makers than ever before, according to FIA rally director Yves Matton.
Matton says the confirmation of the WRC becoming the first FIA series to run 100% sustainable fuel demonstrates commitment to the future and makes the series germane to the road car market.
A World Motor Sport Council e-vote last week confirmed P1 Racing Fuels as the WRC’s supplier of a fossil-free hydrocarbon-based fuel for the next three years. The fuel will be produced with a blend of synthetic and bio-fuel components, sourced from sustainable materials to ensure a marked reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Talking to DirtFish following the announcement that hybrid Rally1 cars would be running sustainable fuel, an upbeat Matton said: “I am convinced the WRC has never looked more attractive.
To convince some other manufacturers to join the championship, we have to have the right tools for themYves Matton
“We did only part of the job with the hybrid car. Of course hybrid is positive, but now I believe with hybrid plus sustainable fuel we achieve what we need to achieve with a championship which is a proper marketing tool for manufacturers.
“This was the only way to have a championship with some future. To convince some other manufacturers to join the championship, we have to have the right tools for them – we have to be linked to what they will sell to their customers tomorrow.
“This is the only important thing. And now we have done this, all the manufacturers and the stakeholders are able to enjoy the sport.”
Four years in its development, P1 is confident there won’t be any reduction in performance from the fuel.
There have, however, been concerns regarding the introduction, with some of the team technicians questioning the fuel’s potential impact on the engine.
“It will be a challenge,” said one source. “The chemical composition of the fuel is going to be very different to what we have now – but we’ve designed an engine for the next three years and that engine was designed around the current fuel. We’re told it’s a drop-in fuel, we’re told we can fill the tank and get on with it. How do we know this?
“The engine will run with no problem, but what do we know about the impact on reliability and the longevity of the engine?”
Matton responded directly to that question, saying: “We made a tender to have drop-in sustainable fuel and this supplier is committed to it. I can only say there is no reason to question [the supplier].
“I don’t want to say more on this because I would say each time we are introducing something, some people are complaining. These people are not taking this in the right way; this is positive news.
“They are thinking about performance, but we are not looking for performance. We are looking for a product – the World Rally Championship and the cars we have in the championship – to be used as a tool by the manufacturers.
“We have a product which is demonstrating a good trend in society and I can only say [for] the pure aspect of performance, we don’t care. There is enough performance in Rally1. Even if we lose a little bit of performance with this [fuel], it doesn’t matter.”