Hybrid technology is not expected to be seen in Rally2 cars for at least the next three years, following a change of heart from the manufacturers involved within rallying’s second tier.
An early timeline had mild hybrid potentially running in Rally2 cars competing in the World Rally Championship from 2023. But DirtFish has learned those plans have been shelved due to the arrival of sustainable fuel for next season and the cost implications for a customer-based category.
FIA rally director Yves Matton said his discussions with Rally2 manufacturers reflected little enthusiasm for hybrid.
“The [Rally2] manufacturers consider the sustainable fuel will be enough of a step,” said Matton. “At the beginning, one manufacturer was pushing quite hard to have a low-voltage hybrid system. One year ago, the story was different and manufacturers were interested, but now it’s changed.
“In the middle term the main step is sustainable fuel, not a system to add to the car.”
Matton added that the WRC’s change of fuel was something to be proud of for the series.
“We put a lot of energy to try to convince everybody this was possible in the WRC,” said Matton. “There was a lot of competition [between championships] for this and I think we should be proud that we will have all competitors next season competing with sustainable fuel.
“This is one thing which has changed from last year. People didn’t think we would have this ready for next season, but we do. For me, I think it’s difficult [to see hybrid] for Rally2 cars in the medium term. We will follow the trends and keep watching what the automotive market wants.”
One manufacturer source told DirtFish: “The cost of hybrid would have been too much for the competitors right now. We have just come from a very difficult place and the market is very different from where it was in 2018/19 – the price for these cars has to reflect that.
“The low-voltage [solution] could have cost a lot and maybe it would take some time to make it reliable. These [things] are not what we need in the Rally2 categories right now.”
Hyundai Motorsport, M-Sport Ford, Škoda Motorsport and Citroën Racing are all currently involved in Rally2, while Volkswagen Motorsport also has a homologated car but given the unit has disbanded, it will not be further developed.
Hybrid is being introduced to world rallying for the first time next year in the new Rally1 category.