The director of the M-Sport team, Malcolm Wilson, has urged the FIA to explore the use of non-hybrid Rally1 cars in regional and national rallies. Wilson’s request comes as M-Sport faces challenges in maintaining its presence in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Initially, Wilson was promised the opportunity to sell Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 cars to private drivers when the Rally1 category was introduced last season. However, only one car has been sold so far, which is far from the ten units needed to sustain M-Sport’s participation in the championship.
During a meeting with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem at the recent Acropolis Rally in Greece, Wilson highlighted the issues faced by M-Sport and expressed hope for quick action. He pointed out that Ben Sulayem had previously won seven Middle East Rally Championship titles using essentially a Rally1 car, suggesting that a non-hybrid solution could be viable.
Wilson argues that the current challenge lies not in the cost of the cars but in the level of organization required to manage hybrid Rally1 cars in national events. The specific rules and regulations surrounding the use of hybrid cars can be complicated and deter drivers from acquiring these vehicles. His proposal suggests removing the hybrid components from Rally1 cars, replacing them with ballast, and using regular cars that can operate under normal rules.
According to Wilson, this non-hybrid solution would encourage both drivers and rallies to adopt Rally1 cars. Ben Sulayem has tasked FIA rally director Andrew Wheatley with investigating the potential use of Rally1 cars outside of the WRC, with a focus on cost reduction. The FIA will also consider allowing these cars to participate in other championships.
Wilson emphasized the urgency of making changes, stating that M-Sport’s ability to sell cars is crucial to its continuity in the sport. He expressed gratitude for the support received from Ben Sulayem and requested further collaboration between M-Sport and the governing body.
– RallySport Magazine