One of the WRC’s up-and-coming stars, Adrien Fourmaux, has made some interesting revelations about the new Rally1 hybrid cars that are set to debut in 2022.
The current M-Sport driver recently had his first taste of the new Ford Puma on tarmac, and revealed that in some situations the new car is potentially dangerous.
The bulk of the testing so far has been done by Matthew Wilson, son of M-Sport boss Malcolm, but Fourmaux managed two days in the car after the Ypres Rally.
Next year’s car will have more power than the current World Rally Cars, but will be heavier and have less aerodynamic aids that will likely make the cars less predictable at speed.
All three WRC teams have begun testing their hybrid cars for next year, with footage widely available of the new Puma and Toyota Yaris in action.
We are yet to see much footage Hyundai i20 in action though.
Of the three teams, only Ford have gone for a totally new model of car.
“The car is obviously heavier, but since the power is greater with the hybrid, it gives a good kick to the ass when everything is on the way!” Fourmaux said this week.
“The FIA is still in the process of discussing how to use this additional power. But with the current operation and the sudden arrival of power, I find that potentially dangerous,” he said.
The 26-year old has been likened to a young Sebastien Loeb or Ogier in his ability and drive so early in his career, and looks almost certain to be get a full contract at the top level in 2002.
One of his 2021 team-mates, Teemu Suninen, tore up his own contract with M-Sport this week and has already been linked to a drive at Rally Finland in a Toyota Yaris WRC.
Suninen wasn’t a part of the M-Sport plans for next year, with Craig Breen the hot favourite to join Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith at the Blue Oval squad.
At Toyota though, Suninen isn’t expected to form part of the team for next year, even though there is a potential six-event program up for grabs, shared with the semi-retiring Sebastien Ogier.
Another Finn, Esapekka Lappi, is the favourite to take that seat after only a limited program this year in a WRC2 car.
Lappi drove for Toyota in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and took his only WRC win at Rally Finland in his first year with the team.
He has already been given an unofficial tick of approval from Toyota Gazoo Racing boss Jari-Matti Latvala, and could join Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanpera, Ogier and Takamoto Katsuta in the squad.
The German-based Hyundai team have Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak locked in for another two seasons. A third car could be again shared between Dani Sordo, and a young driver, such as Oliver Solberg or Jari Huttunen.
Other drivers who are currently plying their trade in WRC2, and who could be available for any team wanting some WRC experience, include Mads Ostberg and Andreas Mikkelson or perhaps even forgotten Kiwi, Hayden Paddon.
The next few weeks will be hectic ones for driver managers.