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When the FIA announced their new R4-Kit rules to calm down the increasingly unregulated wave of specially built rally cars, it was explained these rules would provide a uniform worldwide formula suitable for regional and national level rallying. An R4-Kit is a single FIA approved set of components and parts that can be fitted to several types of car, converting a production vehicle to a four-wheel drive 1.6 litre turbo rally car. The concept is intended to be the way for potentially more cars and brands to compete on a regional and national level and, as importantly, at a low cost. A new R4 car would be fully compliant with the FIA’s safety specifications with a performance level set below that of an R5 car. At the same time, competitors will know that all rival R4 specification cars will be effectively identical, providing a level playing field. Although the formula was announced last year and the tender for supply of parts confirmed in January, no prototype has started trials. Notwithstanding the intentions of the FIA, M-Sport is not convinced. M-Sport chief rally engineer Chris Williams explained: “I do not see it as a viable option, because of the total cost of the complete car will be very close to R5. “A driver still has to build up the complete car. How is (the contracted components supplier Oreca) going to supply a worldwide service at a cost effective price? “All the regions are wanting to have something slightly different. Personally I am not sold on the idea. “I think the FIA got very close to being right when they came up with the R5 philosophy.” Well over 600 R5 cars now exist and two new models (Citroen’s C3 and the new Volkswagen) are coming along.
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