The WRC 2022 started last month, actually a few weeks ago, with the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first of the 13 rounds of the new season. Compared to usual, the event in the Principality was held almost entirely on dry asphalt, a rarity.
We had the first results in terms of performance in the Principality, where M-Sport Ford won thanks to a sumptuous performance by Sébastien Loeb and Isabelle Galmiche at the wheel of one of the 4 Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid EcoBoost lined up by the British team, but Toyota made even more impression with the resounding stage victories of Sébastien Ogier, Elftn Evans (as long as he was in the race) and Kalle Rovanpera.
Missing was Hyundai Motorsport, which struggled with all three drivers, taking to the finish line only one i20 N Rally1, that of Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe. Although Monte-Carlo has given a first mirror in terms of performance, several insiders have advised to wait for a few rallies before drawing hasty conclusions.
The first 4 races of the 2022 season will be held on 4 different surfaces: Monte-Carlo mixed, Sweden on snow, Croatia on asphalt and Portugal will be the first race on dirt for the new Rally1 cars. And it is precisely this event that Elfyn Evans has indicated as the first rally in which it will be possible to really understand the true level of the three Rally1s.
“Traditionally Portugal has always been the event that makes you understand what they can be,” said Evans. “In the past we went to Monte-Carlo, Sweden, Mexico and then Portugal was a kind of place where you knew where you were in terms of performance.”
“I guess at Rally Croatia we should already have some level there with an asphalt rally, but then of course there will be dirt rallies. It will be towards the end of the first half of the year, I think, that we will have a real own assessment of where everyone is. “
“We don’t know exactly what we will be like because many of the rallies that come now are very specific. It’s still early and I don’t think it’s right to leave anyone out at this stage.”
WRC 2022: Testoni agrees with Evans
Terenzio Testoni shares the same opinion as Elfyn Evans. Pirelli’s rally activity manager told Motorsport.com that Rally1 cars will be and are slower than the WRC Plus, at least in the first few outings of the season, but that, with the developments, they could reach the performance of their progenitors. The true potential of the current WRC queens, the first hybrids in history, will probably be revealed by the Rally of Portugal.
“Rally1 will certainly be slower at first than WRC Plus. But I expect that with development over the course of the year and over the next few seasons they will also be able to beat WRC Plus. Not now.”
“To get the first reliable data, regarding the differences in performance between Rally1 and WRC Plus, we will have to wait for the first races on gravel, therefore Portugal and Sardinia. In the first three outings of the year I think it will be complex to have reliable feedback for the particularity of the rallies we are going to face ”.
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