The 2022 season will be a markedly different one for world rallying, with new Rally1 regulations introducing hybrid cars for the first time. We've seen teasers from M-Sport Ford and Toyota over the past few months, but it's actually Hyundai that has shown its 2022 challenger first.
There will be three i20 N Rally1 entries for Hyundai; they will be driven by 2019 champ Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville, with the third car shared between Dani Sordo and Oliver Solberg. Though the 1.6-litre turbo engine is carried over from last season, a 100kW battery pack will make a significant difference to every rally, with a requirement to use the hybrid boost on each stage - and energy regeneration playing a part, too.
Notably, however, the 2022 cars won't be as wild as their immediate predecessors, and that can be seen in this new Hyundai. As well as performance-sapping measures implemented that can't be seen (reduced suspension travel, an extra 70kg for the batteries, no more centre diffs), there's also a toned down aero package that will mean less downforce - which goes to show just how extreme the most recent WRC cars were. Compared to the 2021 machine, this Hyundai i20 N does without the huge front flics and lacks the diffuser that once hung under the exhaust. Obviously putting spoilers up there like a castle battlement means there's still going to be plenty of downforce, but it's easy to see how 2022 differs from 2021 aerodynamically.
More power and less downforce certainly sounds like an interesting approach to a new rallying era. With Toyota's new Yaris and the M-Sport Puma expected this Saturday at the official launch of the 2022 season, there's not long to wait until all the hybrid cars are ready to rally. The season proper kicks off in Monte Carlo on January 20th - it'll be fascinating to see what happens.
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