October 3, 2022

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

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

The rules have ensured Toyota and Hyundai remain committed to the WRC, and Ford has stepped up its involvement in the ruleset, which is set to end until the end of 2024. But the rules have yet to attract a new marque , a key target of new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who said in December that two and a half manufacturers is “not enough”.

However, Motorsport.com understands that Alpine, Skoda and the Stellantis group, which owns the brands Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall, have stated their interest in joining the WRC, if regulations change, with two brands keen on a more electric future.

A meeting took place between a group of manufacturers and the FIA ​​at Rally Portugal in May to discuss the future path of the WRC. Groupe Renault, in the form of Alpine, was present with its Racing Expansion Projects director Davide Brivio on site. It appears that to commit to the WRC, the French brand 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 these days,” said said DeMeo.

Speaking to Motorsport.com earlier this year, new FIA Rally director Andrew Wheatley hinted that the WRC would adopt an evolution of Rally1 rules from 2025, with up to 80% of the current rules carried over .

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

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Interestingly, the FIA ​​has taken its first steps in this direction with technical and homologation regulations for the all-electric FIA Rally5e cars approved at the World Motor Sport Council last week. This very first category of electric rally cars aims to remain close to production models, like the R5 cars that compete in WRC2.

Motorsport.com Italy has revealed that Skoda, which last competed in the WRC’s top flight in 2005, could be swayed if the rules are changed. The marque is currently heavily involved in the WRC’s WRC2 series with its R5 Fabia – a new version of which will debut later this year.

The Stellantis Group is also believed to be evaluating the WRC closely, with its Opel brand currently engaged in running a one-make rally category for its all-electric Corsa E car 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 race in rallies with the Opel Corsa E. It’s very interesting. At the moment we are running electric cars in single brand rallies, we have incredible support which 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.

“Following 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,” read a statement from the FIA. .

“The FIA ​​will be meeting with key stakeholders in the rally community in the coming weeks with the intention of gathering feedback on some of the proposals and ideas that will be put forward for the different categories of the rally pyramid, including the Rally2 class. customer-focused All car manufacturers and groups involved in the WRC are part of this process.

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