Mon 03 Jan 2022

WRC lights up for a stunning 2022 season

Christmas is done. Winter testing is done. The new year’s here and with it comes one of the most anticipated FIA World Rally Championship seasons in history.

The ground-breaking hybrid Rally1 cars which line up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo this month (20 - 23 January) offer more performance and more speed than ever before. 

A fully lit factory car now delivers 520hp and the ability to get from A to B at a staggering rate. The power hike comes via a plug-in hybrid system generating 100kW of power to accompany an unchanged 1600cc turbocharged engine. 

And that power’s going to be felt right from the start. When the season blasts into action at the Lucéram / Lantosque speed test, the impact of hybrid will be immediate as the new machinery redefines what rally car acceleration really means – Rally1 cars all leave the line under full power.

As ever, the Monte will be one of the season’s highlights. But it’s not just the arrival of a new era that has fans on their toes. It’s the return of a pair of Frenchmen who number 17 world titles between them. It’s Sébastien versus Sébastien. Ogier versus Loeb. Eight times versus nine. 

Ogier remains with the Toyota Gazoo Racing squad for which he’s won the last two of his eight titles, while Loeb moves to M-Sport Ford and a Puma Rally1 for the first time. Neither will feature in the fight for the outright title, but cameos from this pair are always welcome. 

Loeb’s M-Sport Ford team-mate Craig Breen is the biggest mover of the year. The Irishman completed his switch from Hyundai Motorsport last autumn to spearhead the team in the biggest opportunity (and first full WRC programme) of his career.

The WRC’s move to a more sustainable future includes not only a fascinating new hybrid system, but also a completely new fuel derived from a blend of synthetic and bio-derived components. 

For the first time in history, competition in the WRC’s top tier is 100% sustainable. 

Beyond the ground-breaking science, there are some returning giants in terms of roads and rallies. New Zealand and Japan are two of the most exciting appointments, with the North Island’s stunning blend of heavily cambered Tasman Coast-hugging tracks making the land of the long white cloud something to look forward to in September. 

The season-closing visit to Japan will provide a fascinating all-asphalt finale in front of some of the world’s most passionate and committed fans.

There’s change within the rallies, too. Round one means a full-time return to a Monaco base, while round two’s Rally Sweden delivers a shift north to the snow-sure roads of Umeå. 

But, let’s face it, it’s the cars that grab the attention this year. Complete with the battery-cooling scoops and air intakes as well as plenty of aero to bolt them to the road, Rally1 cars will look as dramatic as anything that’s graced the stages before. 

Welcome to 2022!

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