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World Rally Championship: The best drivers in the world rely on cutting-edge automotive technology

WRC: High-tech cars with electric hybrid drive and non-fossil fuel. Different classes guarantee brand diversity and allow rally pros and ambitious amateurs to compete side by side. Central European Rally attracts the crème de la crème of rallying to the region bordering Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

The best rally cars in the world will start at the Central European Rally from 26th to 29th October. The top stars in the World Rally Championship will be battling for every fraction of a second in their WRC cars, which are capable of over 500 hp, thanks to a boost of electric power. However, these high-tech cars are not the only ones eligible to race in the region bordering Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic – they are joined by smaller classes of car, right through to the all-electric ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup.

As in Formula racing, which has a clear hierarchy – from Formula 1 at the top of the tree down to Formula 4, which forms the entry-level category for those starting out in single-seater racing – the Rally1 class, which is reserved for the manufacturer teams, forms the pinnacle of rallying. It was in this class that a new and sustainable era dawned at the start of the 2022 season. The regulations developed together with the Hyundai, Ford (M-Sport) and Toyota works teams currently competing in the World Rally Championship differ greatly from the other categories. They are based on state-of-the-art plug-in hybrid technology from a hybrid unit comprising a 1.6-litre turbo engine, which runs on 100-percent non-fossil fuel, and a 3.9-kWh battery with electric motor. This delivers an additional 135 hp when accelerating, meaning the drivers sometimes have over 530 hp at their disposal. Even better: certain sections in villages and the Service Park are tackled on electric power alone, and are virtually silent. To improve safety and give the manufacturers greater freedom when selecting their basis model, the high-tech racers in the elite class are based on a tubular frame chassis for the first time, unlike in the smaller categories. The aerodynamic add-ons are also clearly regulated, as is the transmission. This means the drivers in the Rally1 hybrids must cope without centre differential and must use a gearstick to change gear on the sequential, five-speed gearbox. After the Rally1 class come two all-wheel drive categories in the technically sophisticated Rally2 class and the production-based Rally3 cars. Following the same principle, the next two classes are for two-wheel drive cars: the more demanding Rally4 category and the entry-level models in the Rally5 class. All are based on the body of a B-segment cars. Cleverly, the entry-level Rally5 cars can be upgraded to Rally4, making an expensive change of car unnecessary. There is also a very special category at the Central European Rally: the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup. The Cup competition, which is held with identical Opel Corsa Rally Electric cars, offers a glimpse into the future of motorsport. It goes without saying that all the different classes have their own classification, ensuring that teams with less powerful cars are also able to battle it out for the fastest times and trophies.

An overview of the models, taking M-Sport Ford as an example

British institution M-Sport has been a development partner and customer racing centre for Ford for many years and is the only outfit with a model for every category. An overview:

Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid

Hybrid combination of four-cylinder turbo, 1,620 cc, approx. 400 hp, approx. 490 Nm

plus electric drive with 100 kW (136 hp) = system output of approx. 530 hp

All-wheel drive, six-speed gearbox with shift paddles

Price: ca. € 1,000,000

Ford Fiesta Rally2

Four-cylinder turbo, 1,620 cc, approx. 290 hp, approx. 450 Nm

All-wheel drive, sequential five-speed gearbox

Price: approx. € 235,000

Ford Fiesta Rally3

Three-cylinder turbo, 1,497 cc, approx. 235 hp, approx. 420 Nm,

All-wheel drive, sequential five-speed gearbox

Price: approx. € 120,000

Ford Fiesta Rally4

Three-cylinder turbo, 999 cc, 220 hp, approx. 315 Nm

Front-wheel drive, sequential five-speed gearbox

Price: approx. € 75,000

Ford Fiesta Rally5

Three-cylinder turbo, 999 cc, 150 hp, approx. 200 Nm

Front-wheel drive, sequential five-speed gearbox

Price: approx. € 48,000


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