The future of World Rally Championship: Is full electric off the table?

The World Rally Championship (WRC) is gearing up for a greener future. With hybrid-powered cars gaining traction, sustainable fuel is poised to become the cornerstone of the WRC’s Rally1 regulations from 2027 onwards.

**The Shift to Hybrid Power**

In a ground-breaking move last year, the WRC adopted the Rally1 regulations, heralding the introduction of hybrid power. This progressive decision was taken in tandem with the choice to utilize 100% sustainable fuel supplied by P1 Racing Fuels.

However, as the world races towards 2027, the WRC faces key decisions that will define its long-term future. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is actively exploring various propulsion methodologies to ensure the championship remains relevant and aligned with the evolving automotive market. Some of the considered options include full electric (EV), hydrogen power, and synthetic fuel.

**The Stance on Future Regulations**

Although the current Rally1 regulations are set to persist until 2026, the picture post-2026 remains a topic of fervent discussion. Compact Dynamics, the hybrid unit supplier, has an existing contract only till the end of 2024. As the speculations about the regulations for 2027 intensify, Andrew Whateley, FIA Road Sport Director, sheds light on the possible directions. He has in fact expressed skepticism about a transition to full electric or hydrogen power. Whateley emphasizes the importance of hybrid, stating, “There has to be an element of electrification at the top class and that will be the bit that differentiates it from Rally2.”

In terms of the broader scope of the championship, WRC senior sporting director Peter Thul echoes Wheatley’s sentiments, underlining the crucial combination of sustainable fuel and hybrid technologies.

**The Future of Hybrid Units in WRC**

While the future looks promising for hybrid-powered vehicles in WRC, the supply agreement for the current control 100kW hybrid units for the years 2025 and 2026 is still under deliberation. Major players, including Toyota, Hyundai, and M-Sport Ford, are in active negotiations regarding the terms of a new deal with Compact Dynamics. Whateley elaborated on the ongoing discussions, suggesting that while a change of course is unlikely, it isn’t entirely off the table.

In sum, as the automotive world races into the future, the WRC is determined not to be left behind. Hybrid power, combined with sustainable fuel, appears to be the route of choice, ensuring a thrilling and eco-friendly championship for years to come.