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Three brands are evaluating a future transfer to the WRC if the rules are changed.

Following Citroën’s departure at the end of 2019, the WRC has operated with two full manufacturer entries, Toyota and Hyundai, while Ford is represented in semi-finished form by M-Sport.

This year the championship launched an all-new hybrid Rally1 rulebook, originally designed to increase manufacturer engagement and move the category towards a more sustainable future.

The rules have allowed Toyota and Hyundai to remain committed to the WRC, and Ford has stepped up its involvement in the regulations, which are to be enforced until 2024. But the rules have yet to attract a new marque, a key aim of the new chairman of the FIA, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who declared in December that two and a half manufacturers were “not enough”.

However, Autosport understands that Alpine, Skoda and the Stellantis group, which owns the brands Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall, have declared their interest in join the WRC, if the regulations are changed, with two brands keen on a more electric future.

A meeting was held between a group of manufacturers and the FIA ​​at Rally Portugal in May to discuss the future way forward for the WRC. Groupe Renault, in the form of Alpine, was present with its director of racing expansion projects, Davide Brivio, on site. It seems that for the French brand to commit, the WRC would have to adopt fully electric cars, as its CEO Luca De Meo revealed in February.

“I am interested in exploring, it remains to be seen if we can find the right conditions to participate in the World Rally Championship, but I want to do it with an electric car, which is not possible today” , said De Meo.

Speaking to Autosport earlier this year, new FIA rally director Andrew Wheatley hinted that the WRC would adopt an evolution of Rally 1 rules from 2025, retaining up to 80% current rules.

It is understood that a switch to all-electric for 2025 is out of the question, but the FIA ​​has not overlooked the alternative method of propulsion in the future if battery technology improves.

Interestingly, the FIA ​​took its first steps in this direction by approving, at last week’s World Motor Sport Council, the technical and homologation regulations for the all-electric FIA Rally5e rally cars. This very first category of electric rally cars aims to remain close to production models, like the R5 cars that compete in WRC2. Italy has revealed that Skoda, which last competed in the top tier of the WRC in 2005, could be swayed if the rules are changed. The marque is currently heavily involved in the WRC2 series with its Fabia R5 – a new version of which will be launched later this year.

The Stellantis Group is also closely evaluating the WRC, with its Opel brand currently engaged in running a one-brand rally category for its all-electric Corsa E in Germany.

“I would like to invite everyone to see what we are doing with the Opel brand in Germany,” said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis Group.

“We have a specific series in which we participate in rallies with the Opel Corsa E. It’s very interesting. Currently we are running electric cars in one-make rallies, we have incredible support that allows us to charge a very large number of cars. If you want to do it, it is possible”.

The FIA ​​has since confirmed that it will meet key stakeholders again to discuss future WRC regulations in the coming weeks.

“After the successful introduction of the hybrid era, there is a clear opportunity for rallying to embrace new technologies and continue to explore deeper cooperation with manufacturers,” reads a statement from the FIA. .

“The FIA ​​will meet with key stakeholders from the rally community in the coming weeks to gather feedback on some of the proposals and ideas that will be put forward for the different categories of the rally pyramid, including the Directed Rally 2 category. by the customer. All car manufacturers and groups involved in the WRC are part of this process.

“The championship finale in Japan will also give us the opportunity to engage closely with manufacturers and partners in the region. »


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