Gearing up for a first look at the new WRC hybrid era

Stars of the FIA World Rally Championship’s ground-breaking new hybrid era will rip the wrapping from the 2022 season at a spectacular launch in Austria this weekend. For the first time, the WRC’s dramatic new-generation Rally1 cars from the three manufacturer teams will be together in Salzburg’s Hangar-7 museum as the series’ new-look sustainable future is unveiled on Saturday, January 15. Here is all you need to know:

- New liveries will be revealed and big-name drivers and co-drivers from reigning champions Toyota Gazoo Racing, Hyundai Motorsport and M-Sport Ford will talk about their hopes for 2022, while team management will discuss season strategies.

- The WRC will undergo major environmental changes this year when new technical regulations drive the series towards a more sustainable future. Plug-in hybrid-powered Rally1 cars designed around an upgraded safety cell chassis, 100 percent fossil-free fuel and sustainable energy supplies are key to a commitment to a greener future from the FIA and WRC Promoter.

- Manufacturers have been racing against the clock for months to develop and test their new hybrid challengers, in which a 100kW electric motor coupled to a 3.9kWh battery complements a competition-proven 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The package raises peak performance levels to more than 500bhp whilst also reducing harmful emissions.

- FIA deputy secretary-general sport Bruno Famin said: “Adopting hybrid power and fossil-free bio-fuel are two of the biggest advances in the sport’s history and a huge step towards achieving our overriding sustainability goals. The FIA has been working very hard on these developments, while also introducing significant safety innovations.”

- WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said the new era underlined the commitment to a more environmentally-friendly future: “It’s fitting these ground-breaking changes should be incorporated for the WRC’s 50th season. The new Rally1 cars look fantastic. After so much preparation and hard work across the sport, we’re just days away from the start of the new era – it’s hard to contain the excitement. I can’t wait to see the cars together in Salzburg to mark the start of what will be a thrilling year.”

- The launch takes place five days before cars roar into competitive action at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo (January 20-23). The Monaco-based fixture features inhospitable roads in the French Alps where winter weather can be expected to deliver the unexpected.

- Speaking ahead of the event, reigning WRC champion Seb Ogier said: “I’m looking forward to it, it’s a new era, a new opportunity to learn and discover new things. It’s definitely going to be an interesting one to watch.

- “We did a little testing in December and some in Modena in January and for sure the potential for a spectacle is there and the speed is really fast. Right now, it’s a little slower than last year’s car, but I believe this is going to improve quite quickly. The aero is different, so that changed the handling slightly, but the power when we have the full support of the hybrid unit is really good – over 500bhp. That’s always exciting to feel inside the cockpit.”

- “I think this is an important step, but in my point of view it is only a first step and I think in the future there will be more steps like this one.”

- As well the kick-off to the all-new Rally1 era, Rallye Monte-Carlo also marks the return of nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb to the series at the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 and the sport’s greatest champion is champing at the bit to compete in the new car.

- The hour-long event will be streamed live from Hangar 7 on Saturday, January 15 at 18:00 CET on Red Bull TV.