Rising temperatures in the cockpit of new-for-2022 hybrid cars have prompted the FIA and teams to respond to address the issue that emerged during Rally Portugal in May.
Conditions inside the Rally1 cars were found to be significantly hotter compared to the previous generation WRC car, thanks to a key change in vehicle design which resulted in the exhaust being moved from a central position to the right side of the cockpit near where the co-pilot is seated. .
As a result, temperatures have risen, with some drivers describing conditions as dangerous in Portugal.
This led to a quick reaction from the FIA, which put together a list of quick changes teams could make to their cars to help remedy the situation at Rally Sardinia last month, where ambient temperatures reached 40 degrees. .
Teams were allowed to redesign roof vents, add ventilation holes and install reflective film on windows and roofs to reflect heat away from the cabin, while the use of ceramic coatings around the firewall, engine compartment and exhausts has been promoted.
It is understood that in some cases, the quick fixes lowered the cabin temperature by around five degrees.
While conditions were difficult for the crews, M-Sport team principal Millener believes the FIA should monitor the situation before rushing to a permanent solution to the problem which could cost the teams dearly.
“I honestly think they [the FIA] could have seen that coming and they allowed development of the regulations with the exhaust going down a tunnel down the side of the car so you don’t get the airflow you used to get in older cars” , Millener told Motorsport. com.
“You can also say that all manufacturers are involved in the design phase, so everyone was involved when these cars were put together. But how quickly something can be changed is not that easy.
“It is important that we do not rush to make changes. We have to see how much trouble that actually causes us and one of the suggestions at the very beginning was to have side exhausts and get rid of the whole exhaust system but the FIA didn’t want that I believe . It could be an option.
“There are other things that we can consider in the future and maybe at the end of the year we could rethink something, but you also have to be reasonable and understand that there is a lot cost to that.
“If you get into something that costs a lot of money for a problem once a year, that’s not a budget well spent for anyone. I think we just have to keep an eye on it and see what we can do. .
Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Adding air conditioning units to cars has been tabled, but Millener believes that unless made mandatory, it would not provide the required solution.
“You can add air conditioning units, but unless everyone has to, there will always be a team that refuses because of the extra weight and power needed to run the system,” Millener added.
“I think Sardinia was going to be our worst event of the season. [for heat]Kenya is still going to be hot but we all have small adjustments that we made for the last rally and we are continuing them.
Heading into this weekend’s Safari Rally, WRC teams will continue to use their modified cars and be less concerned about the cockpit heat issue, given the fast open Kenya stages and the fact that ambient temperatures should not exceed 25 degrees.
“The verdict [on the changes in Sardinia] was really positive,” Toyota technical director Tom Fowler told Motorsport.com. “The crews in Sardinia were really surprised given how hot it was that the interior of the car was not that bad.
“Of course we have made progress since Portugal and it is working.
“I think that it’s good [for Kenya]. Obviously the lower the speed, the more difficult it is to cool everything down.
“Here in Sardinia we had a lot of very slow medium speed stages and we were still good, so I think with Kenya it’s a bit more open in most stages, so we should be well enough.”