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Hyundai and Toyota call for changes to WRC hybrid regulations

Hyundai and Toyota have urged the FIA to update sporting regulations to prevent cars being forced to retire from rallies due to problems with hybrid units.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Both manufacturers were forced to retire cars involved in the battle for victory at last weekend’s Rally Sweden after suffering failures with the control hybrid unit.

Under the current FIA regulations surrounding the new hybrid component, drivers and teams are unable to continue if warning lights appear, or if there is an absence of active lights on a hybrid unit, even if the car can still operate using its internal combustion engine. 

In this situation Rally1 cars are effectively put into quarantine with teams unable to touch them as a safety precaution until given an all-clear by hybrid unit suppliers Compact Dynamics and the FIA.

Hyundai’s Ott Tanak and Toyota’s Elfyn Evans were the first drivers to fall foul of the rules.

A red light appeared on Tanak’s hybrid unit while sitting second only 1.1s behind then rally leader Evans on stage 5, leaving the Estonian angry he had to retire despite his car being still able to run. The 2019 world champion would later label the situation “something that should never happen in the sport.”

Evans suffered a similar fate although in his case no active light were displayed on his system after he repaired his damaged GR Yaris following a crash on Sunday’s stage 16.

Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet believes the regulations should be changed to avoid a repeat of this situation in the future. 

“First of all, Ott is very frustrated and we are as well, as he was on the pace,” Moncet told Autosport/Motorsport.com.  

“We know how fast he can be in Sweden, it is disappointing. I think we are on the same page with the other manufacturers and with the FIA that we have to rethink some sporting regulations to avoid this situation again.

“Let’s work all together. We have already had some meeting over the weekend and let’s make it happen to update the rules to try to avoid this happening again. 

“It is never easy as you have to think about all what can happen but we are learning. We have to avoid this.”

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala understands that teething issues with new technology can occur, and is aware of the safety aspects, but agrees hybrid issues shouldn’t force teams to retire cars.

Evans was not the only Toyota to suffer hybrid issues as rally winner Kalle Rovanpera was without use of his hybrid unit, but the system was displaying the correct lights to allow the Finn to continue.  

“I can see we have got too many issues with them [the hybrid units] at the moment,” Latvala told Autosport/Motorsport.com. 

“They need to be stable and they shouldn’t be the reason for a manufacturer to be stopping in rallies, so I think there is some place for improvements. We hope the FIA will take more reaction on that. 

“I think something like this [a regulation update] we need to consider because this is the thing, we understand that in motorsport you will have technical problems and issues, but basically because it is the hybrid units, there is nothing we can do ourselves because they are coming from outside.

“They should not stop us continuing the race. We saw Kalle won the rally and he didn’t have hybrid today and Elfyn didn’t have it this morning we should be in a situation where they didn’t stop us. I think we could do some updates on the sporting regulations.

"The first priority is the safety but I think we can look to improve, keep the safety [elements], but keep the cars running.”

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