On the back of VW’s stunning Pikes Peak success with its all-electric racer, VW motorsport director Sven Smeets has urged WRC bosses to act fast on finding a place for alternative energy in the series.
It is understood that the FIA is working through possible electric and hybrid options for the WRC, but that there are as yet no new rules ready for the next regulatory cycle that starts in 2020.
Smeets, who has been in the WRC for his entire career, with 94 rallies as a front-line co-driver, before taking on team management at Citroën and then VW, is now supervising VW’s move into electric-vehicle competition, including Romain Dumas’s Pikes Peak record in the I.D. R.
“The WRC needs something to connect to the next generation,” said Smeets. “But if you ask me what does the future look like, it’s not a straightforward answer. It would be very difficult to say you have to make an electric car for the WRC now because today is not the right time. But something has to be done.”
WRC’s current thinking is that the World Rally Cars will remain for a further three years until the end of ’22, buying the FIA more time to find an alternative solution. But Smeets says that could be too long.
“It’s really time to talk about it and put a road map in the technical regulations for what the next step is,” he added. “Waiting until 2022 to make these decisions wouldn’t be good. Maybe the answer is to have a two-year cycle next. That would give the current manufacturers another three years, including next season, but it’s also enough time to make a change in the regulations.
“You have to respect the manufacturers who are in the sport currently, but what’s needed is something that attracts new teams as well. I would say the FIA needs to look to have 2022 regulations in place by the end of next season. Everybody can have a look at them and the FIA can then decide when they want to implement them.”
He also warned about being complacent, adding: “The championship today is sitting in a very good position. And then you can have this idea of why should we change when you’re in this position. But the next thing to think about is how many manufacturers are knocking on the door to enter? I can imagine there are not so many. So, by sitting in a good position, you are also in a very dangerous position, when someone might say: ‘We’re going to go and do something else…'”