WRC Promoter, the company responsible for all commercial elements of the World Rally Championship, has reiterated its support for the new regulations to be introduced in 2022.
Dubbed ‘Rally1’, the overhaul of the technical regulations will bring in hybrid power to the top class World Rally Cars and aim to be more representative of the showroom models that the current competing manufacturers mass produce.
Soon-to-depart WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla, who has been at the front of the company’s rally work since it began at the start of the 2013 season and oversaw the last big change in the regulations in 2017, spoke recently spoke with DirtFish in an exclusive interview.
Plummeting profits in the automotive industry due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pressure on WRC teams has led to service park talk of a delay or tweaking of the regulations to make for an easier transition for the competing manufacturers, and Ciesla was quick to bat away such ideas when asked by DirtFish.
“No, not at all. We don’t have the time [to delay],” he said. “We should not wait any longer. The faster we can have a different technology, the better it is.
“Where we want to bring back the championship is, it shall be a platform for cars or for the supply industry that is a technology leader. We want to be a platform for innovation.
“You remember the time when the Quattro became popular, and this was off the back of the Audi Quattro in WRC.
“We have not properly played this [innovation] card in the past. Even so, when you talk to a Michelin, Pirelli, Total, you understand – and even our four car manufacturers, [I} include here also Škoda – they all take a lot of learning from this experience that they gather in this harsh environment of a rally weekend, [and take] back to the factories where they produce the serial car.”
That argument stands well for the reasoning behind introducing Rally1, which was signed off in March, and Ciesla echoed FIA rally director Yves Matton in his teeing up of the financial implications of sticking to the current schedule of a 2022 debut for hybrid power.
“Of course I know the arguments. We’re talking every day [with teams]. The point is, due to the fact that the budgets are in the next month, does that have an effect on when we introduce the new car because it has a tremendous cost? To develop a new car at the same time as running the current car, these are the discussions that we have, and to see how we can help manufacturers to manage budget in an intelligent way.
“Can we save costs, but always under the premise of maintaining the target to introduce a new technology as soon as possible that allows us to present WRC as the platform of innovation, of leading technology and of a laboratory for car manufacturers to come up with innovative solutions.”