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A permanent thermal solution for the WRC cockpit should not be rushed

Elevated cockpit temperatures in the new-for-2022 hybrid cars have prompted the FIA ​​and teams to react to address the issue that emerged during May’s Rally Portugal.

Conditions in the Rally1 cars have proven to be far hotter compared to the previous generation WRC cars, due to a major change in car design which has resulted in the exhaust moving from a central position to the right Side of the cockpit near the passenger’s seat moved.

As a result, temperatures have risen and some drivers are describing the conditions in Portugal as unsafe.

This prompted a quick response from the FIA, which drew up a list of quick modifications teams could make to their cars to deal with the situation at last month’s Rally Sardinia, when ambient temperatures reached 40 degrees.

Teams were allowed to redesign roof vents, add vent holes and fit reflective sheeting to windows and roof to reflect heat away from the cabin, while encouraging the use of ceramic coatings around the firewall, engine bay and exhaust systems.

The quick fixes are understood to have lowered cabin temperatures by around five degrees in some cases.

Although conditions have been difficult for crews, M-Sport team principal Millener believes the FIA ​​should be monitoring the situation before rushing towards a permanent solution to the problem, which could result in significant costs for teams.

“I honestly think her [the FIA] could have seen this coming and they have allowed the regulations to be developed where the exhaust goes down through a tunnel down the side of the car so you don’t get the airflow that you used to have in the older cars,” said Millener versus Autosport.

“One can also argue that all the 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’s important that we don’t rush change. We’ll have to see how much trouble it actually gives us and one of the suggestions from the start was to have side exhausts and get rid of the entire exhaust system, but I don’t think the FIA ​​wanted that. It could be an option.

“There are other things we can look at going forward and maybe we could redesign something at the end of the year but you also have to be sensible and understand that there’s a lot of cost involved.

“If you embark on something once a year that costs a lot of money for one issue, that’s not a budget well spent for anyone. I think we’ll 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

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Installing air conditioning in cars has been suggested, but Millener believes that if it weren’t mandatory, it wouldn’t provide the solution needed.

“You could add air conditioning, but unless everyone has to do it, there’s always going to be a team that’s going to say no because of the extra weight and horsepower it takes to run the system,” Millener added.

“I would think Sardinia would be our worst event of the season [for heat]Kenya is still getting warm but we have all taken small changes we made for the last rally and are carrying them forward.”

Heading into this weekend’s Safari Rally, the WRC teams will continue to drive their modified cars and are less concerned about the heat issue in the cockpit, given the fast open stages in Kenya and the fact that ambient temperatures are unlikely to exceed 25 degrees.

“The judgment [on the changes in Sardinia] was really positive,” Toyota Technical Director Tom Fowler told Autosport. “Given the heat, the crews in Sardinia were really surprised that the interior of the car wasn’t that bad.

“Sure we’ve made some improvements since Portugal and it’s working.

“I think it’s ok [for Kenya]. Of course, the lower the speed, the more difficult it is to cool everything.

“Here in Sardinia we’ve had a lot of very slow stages with average speed and still been ok, so I think it’s a bit more open in Kenya in most stages so we should be quite ok.”

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