Hybrid or Paddon? Who sees WRC action first?

Hybrid technology is coming to the World Rally Championship in a couple of years, but Citroen has moved to ensure that it’s simply a matter of when, not if.

Teams have been open in their support of the new technology, but the French manufacturer are the first to threaten to withdraw from the WRC unless hybrids are introduced.

Whether it’s fact, or whether it’s just a scare tactic to ensure the French-based FIA bows to their desires remains to be seen, but as reported on TalkMotorsport last week, there seems little doubt hybrids are on the way.

Citroen Racing’s team principal, Pierre Budar, explained the company’s visions at last weekend’s Rally Mexico.

“I think the main goal is to be able to drive the car in the full electric version,” Budar said.

“We need sometimes to be 100% electric, like for example in service park or when we go through a town or village in countries where very loud cars can be a problem, sometimes for the neighbours.

“On rallies we want to present a good image of the hybrid and we can show also we are able to make high performance cars for the stages, which can be very quiet and have zero emission on the road.”

That’s all in the future though, and while Citroen are looking ahead to the future, they don’t have too many concerns in the present.

Following Sebastien Ogier’s victory in Mexico, they have now won two of the three rallies held so far this year, proving that having the best driver is the easiest way to put your team onto the top step of the podium.

Yet further back in the field, poor performances by many of the other works drivers is giving hope that New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon could be back in the WRC sooner rather than later.

Respected WRC photographer, Colin McMaster, added fuel to the fire after Mexico by tweeting to Paddon:

“Had dinner with a respected WRC hack who reckons you’ll be in the car by Chile.”

Hyundai have already dropped Andreas Mikkelsen for the all-tarmac Tour de Course next month, while over at M-Sport, Teemu Suninen has crashed on two of the three rallies so far – and both on the first ‘real’ stage of the rally.

All of which will be intriguing to Hayden Paddon, but until his phone rings and he’s offered a drive, nothing has changed.

In the meantime, the media and the fans will speculate, and drivers like Mikkelsen and Suninen will work even harder to live up to their potential.

Peter Whitten

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

http://rallysportmag.com

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