WRC drivers and teams full of praise for FIA’s new Rally1 regulations | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC drivers and teams full of praise for FIA’s new Rally1 regulations

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FIA World Rally Championship drivers and teams were united in their praise of the all-new Rally1 regulations as the sport’s exciting hybrid era began on Rallye Monte-Carlo last week.

The product of extensive work by FIA departments in partnership with the competing manufacturers Hyundai, M-Sport (Ford) and Toyota, Rally1 is underlining the major advances motor sport’s world governing body has made in rallying both in terms of sustainable technology and safety. 

As well as raising performance levels, the hybrid-powered Rally1 cars reduce harmful emissions and run on 100 per cent fossil-free fuel. Aligned with significant safety innovations through a tubular safety cell – the result of months of intensive research and development – the FIA is leading a period of wide-reaching change that is pivotal to strengthening the sport, its appeal and importance into the future.

In addition to the dramatic battle for victory on the challenging asphalt stages, the debut of Rally1 was the main talking point throughout the 90th running of Rallye Monte-Carlo, which also signalled the start of the WRC’s 50th season.

Sébastien Loeb, whose victory alongside co-driver Isabelle Galmiche for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team was his eighth on the event and his 80th in the WRC, said: “It was a lot of power. You can really enjoy it in the exit of slow corners and when you don’t have it, you understand how much it gives you an extra boost. When I sat in a car like that, I enjoyed it a lot.”

After finishing in second position for Toyota Gazoo Racing, Sébastien Ogier said: “Our teams have done a fantastic job building completely new cars that are completely different from the other ones. I was expecting more issues, but we could fight like in the good old days and you would not think it was the first time for these cars. It was really enjoyable and a good show for the sport.”

Akio Toyoda, Team Founder, Toyota Gazoo Racing, said: “This is an electrified car following the new regulations to make this sport more sustainable. I would like to express my respect to the leadership of the FIA, WRC Promoter, and all others involved in the preparations as they have helped this historic and traditional World Rally Championship move toward the realisation of carbon-neutrality with electrified cars and new fuel.” 

Although the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team endured a difficult Rallye Monte-Carlo, Deputy Team Director Julien Moncet highlighted the progress that had been made and the potential in store. “We are here to win, and the result is not according to our expectations. Nevertheless, we have been able to check a lot of systems on our new Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car, and there are always good things to take out of even the most difficult moments. When the car ran trouble-free, we could show some competitive times so the pace is there.”

Adrien Fourmaux was also full of praise of the Rally1 regulations after he and co-driver Alexandre Corea emerged from their Ford Puma Rally1 uninjured following their accident on the second day of the event. A miscalculated pacenote resulted in their car crashing into rocks before rolling off the road and down a small ravine. Although the car suffered extensive damage, the safety cell was fully intact.

“It’s a really good improvement,” Fourmaux said of the Rally1 safety cell. “The FIA have done a really nice job and we were really safe. It took a big impact but the safety cell the guys were in was very much in place,” added Team Principal of M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Richard Millener

FIA Deputy Secretary General for Sport Bruno Famin said: “The 90th Rallye Monte-Carlo delivered thrilling action and represented a significant milestone in the WRC’s new hybrid era with the Rally1 cars on stage for the first time. It’s been a huge challenge for the manufacturers, technical partners and the FIA to bring these new cars to life with a new hybrid system, sustainable fuel and increased safety with the tubular safety cell. We witnessed a spectacular show free of major technical issues: it’s been a successful start for which we can all be proud. Now we are back to work to collect all the learnings, to work hand-in-hand with the teams and WRC Promoter to optimise all the processes ahead of Rally Sweden next month. We will also continue to train the crews, marshals and all other stakeholders on the safety procedures related to these news cars and spread the message to the numerous fans on the special stages. It’s the opening chapter of a new and very exciting book.”