New WRC season kicks off next Thursday

Kenyan driver Onkar Rai (left) poses for a photograph with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) after winning the WRC 3 division of the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya near Hell’s Gate at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, on June 27, 2021.
 


 

Photo credit: Tony Karumba | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The move sees Lappi rejoin the Toyota team he drove for in 2017 and 2018, where he scored his only WRC win to date at Rally Finland in 2017.
  • “I am very happy to have such a strong line-up of drivers heading into 2022 and an exciting new era for the WRC,” said Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala.

A new exciting season kicks off on Thursday next week in Monte Carlo where the new hybrid era rally cars will make their debut.

In the biggest change in technical regulations since the arrival of Group A in 1987, the WRC’s top category will not rely solely on internal combustion for forward motion.

Instead, 100kW hybrid motors delivering additional 130hp bursts of power throughout the special stages coupled with 100% sustainable fuel will move the sport into a more environmentally-conscious direction whilst still retaining the core DNA of the world’s most exciting off-road motorsport series.

The new Hybrid car will delivers 514 break Horse Power in the most dramatic changes in the sport since the fabled Group B cars with maximum power output of 550 BHP.

Factory teams from Hyundai, Ford and Toyota Hyundai Motorsport have already confirmed their drivers’ line-up almost similar to last year.

Hyundai have nominated Dani Sordo and Oliver Solberg who will share the third  Rally 1 car sharing the team’s third Rally1 car, while Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak as full-time drivers for the start of WRC’s hybrid regulations.

Sordo has been part of the Hyundai Motorsport squad for the last eight years, playing a crucial role in the team’s and has played an integral role in some of its most memorable moments.

Both Sordo and Solberg will compete in selected events in the team’s ninth season at the pinnacle of world rallying, bringing an important mix of experience and youth

Toyota, world champions for manufacturers and drivers, have confirmed Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera will been retained to contest as full time drivers in the Toyota GR Yaris Hybrid.

Joining the line-up is Esapeka. M-Sport Ford have retained Gus Greensmith, who is the lead pilot in the all new Ford Puma Hybrid  with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship.

Greensmith was a revelation last season, consistently notching a top five position including a best fourth position in the WRC Safari Rally.

The Briton has already played a key role in the squad’s continued development and confirmation of his appointment alongside Craig Breen for 2022 will give the team a strong pair of drivers as the championship moves into a new age.

Greensmith’s rapid progress also demonstrates the success of M-Sport’s ‘Ladder of Opportunity’, according to the team’s talent development.

Greensmith drove a Ford Fiesta Rally5 to third in the UK Fiesta Sport Trophy in 2014 before switching to a Fiesta R2 for the WRC Fiesta Trophy in 2015 and 2016.

Lappi was tipped last month to secure the vacant seat in the third car following seven-time champion Ogier’s decision to scale back his 2022 commitments to only a partial campaign, having already elected to extend his full-time career into 2021 after Covid-19 cut the 2020 season short.

The move sees Lappi rejoin the Toyota team he drove for in 2017 and 2018, where he scored his only WRC win to date at Rally Finland in 2017.

“I am very happy to have such a strong line-up of drivers heading into 2022 and an exciting new era for the WRC,” said Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala.

“It’s very nice to have Elfyn and Kalle continuing with us as drivers who can fight for the championship.

“Elfyn is a really consistent driver, always helping to get the points for the team towards the championship, but as he proved with his victory on Rally Finland, he’s also absolutely one of the fastest drivers and definitely one of the contenders to win the title.

“We have seen really great performances from Kalle this year. He is developing all the time and as he gains more and more experience, he can also become a strong contender for championships.

Latvala added: “Seb is a great champion and he will be really valuable for us again next season, even though he will no longer be targeting the drivers’ title for himself.

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