High-Thrill World Rally Championship Officially Switching to Hybrid Power Starting in 2022

New FIA rules demand a gradual change to electrification for the next WRC homologation cycle.

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After convening Friday in Paris with the World Motorsport Council, the FIA has announced historic changes to two of its championships: first, it outlined official rules for the new Hypercar class in the World Endurance Championship, and second, rules for the World Rally Championship that will have all cars switch to hybrid systems beginning in 2022.

Teams will use a "supplementary hybrid system" on their cars in the first year of the new five-year homologation cycle. All cars will share many of their hybrid parts for the first three years, and electric technical developments will be allowed beginning in 2024. The change won't happen overnight for most teams either, as the FIA will allow a mix of hybrid and fully electric rally cars on the same stage until everyone has completely replaced internal combustion engines. The ultimate vision is for these powertrains to give cars extra power from recovered energy in certain rally stages and run on full electric power during downtime and in cities.

These changes follow a long history of manufacturers pushing for the championship's switch to electrification. Electric-assisted motors have already proven their potential for faster lap times and greater reliability. How exactly the boosts to power will influence rally car performance on the dirt remains to be seen, however.

Other changes to the next few WRC seasons include a body scaling system that allows manufacturers to scale down their cars for competition to meet FIA vehicle dimension restrictions, letting cars based on larger production models enter the WRC. Another change stops tire development dead in its tracks from 2021 to 2024, cutting costs and preventing a tire arms race.  

The most drastic changes to WRC are still two seasons away, but we are anxious to see what they will mean for the future of rally cars.