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Electric WRC is on the way, say top drivers

Colin Clark (left) with Mads Ostberg and Hayden Paddon at the pre-Otago Rally dinner. Photo: Peter Whitten

Electrification of rally cars is well on the way, and whether we like it or not, it’s a change rally fans (and competitors) are going to have to get used to.

WRC commentator, Colin Clark, and leading drivers, Mads Ostberg and Hayden Paddon, gave their views on the new form of rally car technology prior to the Otago Rally in New Zealand.

Hybrid technology has its challenges, but as Clark, Ostberg and Paddon confirmed, it’s coming, and it’s coming soon.

“I think it’s the way we’re going, isn’t it?” Colin Clark said.

“And we have to go that way. It’s difficult for those of us who enjoy traditional rallying. But for me it’s an enormous opportunity for rally.

“Because you know what? There are so many challenges for the automotive industry, in terms of electrification. And rallying is almost the perfect test bed, the perfect proving ground for hybrid and then full electrification.

“For me, it’s actually quite exciting, because it might herald a whole new era in terms of manufacturer participation, and in terms of seats for driver.

“The 2022 regulations will be hybrid regulations, and from there eventually will go electric, which has to be the way to go, and as I say, I think potentially it could be the saviour of the sport going forward, which is quite the opposite from what a lot of other people think.”

Colin Clark was a special guest at the 2019 Otago Rally. Photo: Peter Whitten

“I completely agree with Colin, and actually me and Hayden already talked about it after we met here in New Zealand,” Mads Ostberg added.

“But you know, things are changing, it’s no doubt about it and I think that when you are a big fan of rallying you’re a big fan of engine noise, and the smell and everything, it’s a big part of it.

“I think we just have to realise that will happen and I think we are. I think people in the sport understand that something needs to happen, and I think we have to work with it and try to improve it and try to be prepared when it arrives.

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“I think it’s the future and I’m starting to get my head around it and I’m starting to look forward to a new time in rallying, and I hope to be there when it’s happening.”

Hayden Paddon agreed, despite admitting to being a petrolhead as much as anyone else.

“I love rallying. We have to realise that rallying was always at the cutting edge of technology in the automotive industry, and now you can borrow a car, or buy a car that’s got more technology than a rally car and, for me, that’s the wrong way around.

“So, there’s always going to be a place for the current cars. They would never change, but they’re very top tier.

“I think it has to change for the manufacturers to stay involved, keep investment going and keep the sport at a high level, so, yeah, that’s going to happen.

“We’ll all have got adapt to it, so all I would say is watch the space, but it’s going to happen quicker than what we think,” Paddon said.

Related news:

COMMENT: Hybrid technology a must for WRC

In the beginning: 39 years of the Audi Quattro

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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