The WRC made the move to introduce hybrid power with its Rally1 regulations last year which coincided with a pioneering decision to adopt 100% sustainable fuel, provided by P1 Racing Fuels.
However, the championship’s long-term future from 2027 and beyond has prompted the FIA to investigate a range of propulsion methods to future-proof the championship and align it with the automotive market. Full electric (EV), hydrogen power and synthetic fuel have all been considered as options.
The current set of Rally1 regulations is largely to remain until 2026, subject to the agreement of a new deal with hybrid unit supplier Compact Dynamics, which initially signed a contract until the end of 2024.
While 2027’s regulations are yet to be formalised, a move to full electric or hydrogen power is “very unlikely” according to FIA Road Sport Director Andrew Whateley.
“After  is the next discussion and hybrid is a key part of that,” Wheatley told Motorsport.com. “The discussion for 2027 is how much engine versus how much hybrid power.
“There is not a discussion of no hybrid, it is a discussion of how do we make it work. Does the amount of ICE use come down 10% or 20%, or does the hybrid go up 30% or 50%? I don’t think it will be 50-50.
“There has to be an element of electrification at the top class and that will be the bit that differentiates it from Rally2.
“From the perspective of the manufacturers, an element of electrification is not a key element but part of the mix.
“We have done some thorough investigations about full electric in the current format of WRC, and it is very difficult, but the situation is changing and evolving.
“It [hydrogen] will be very unlikely. I wouldn’t rule it out but particularly with hydrogen, on the technical side we can run a hydrogen-powered Toyota Yaris now.
“I would never say never with hydrogen because we could run hydrogen in the cars today. It wouldn’t be impossible, but what would be difficult is the size of the tank and the logistics of how we manage the safety and all of those elements in the current form of rallying.”
Full EV cars contest the ADAC’s Opel Electric Rally Cup, but the WRC appears unlikely to follow suit
Photo by: Opel
The WRC Promoter has backed up Wheatley’s prediction that the championship is set for a long-term future with hybrid-powered vehicles.
“At the moment we have discussions about the future regulations which is absolutely important and everyone in the championship agrees it has to be a mixture of sustainable fuel and hybrid,” said WRC senior sporting director Peter Thul.
“We believe this is the only way to keep rallying as it is. Going full electric with the technology available there is no option.
“We still believe rallying should have an ICE component and sustainable fuel.”
While it appears the WRC’s long-term will remain using hybrid power, an agreement to ensure the supply of the current control 100kW hybrid units for 2025 and 2026 is yet to be reached.
Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford are currently involved in negotiations on the terms of new deal with Compact Dynamics, which is hoped to be secured by the end of the month.
Compact Dynamics technicians service an M-Sport Ford
Photo by: Compact Dynamics
Wheatley added: “We are now into the discussion of 2025 and 2026 and do we extend the current contract, do we amend the current contract or do we decide to take a different route? I would probably say it is unlikely we will take a different route, but it is not impossible.
“At the moment, we are negotiating between the manufacturers and Compact Dynamics on the terms of an extension to that contract.
“That has been complicated a little bit because there are so many options we can do. One of the key elements we are looking at are which elements of the current unit can be recycled into an updated unit going forward.”