Permanent WRC cockpit heat solution shouldn’t be rushed

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

Conditions inside Rally1 cars have proven far hotter compared to the previous generation WRC car, courtesy of a key change in vehicle design that has resulted in the exhaust moving from a central position to the right side of the cockpit near to where the co-driver sits .

As a result, temperatures have increased, with some drivers describing the conditions as unsafe in Portugal.

This led to a swift reaction from the FIA, which drew up a list of quick modifications teams could make to their cars to help address the situation at Rally Sardinia last month, where ambient temperatures reached 40 degrees.

Teams were permitted to redesign roof vents, add ventilation holes and fit reflective film to windows and roofs to reflect the heat away from the cabin, while the use of ceramic coatings around the firewall, engine bay and exhausts were encouraged.

It is understood that in some cases the quick fixes dropped cabin temperatures by approximately five degrees.

While conditions were tough for crews, M-Sport team principal Millener believes the FIA ​​should monitor the situation before rushing into a permanent solution to the problem that could come at a significant cost to teams.

“I think honestly they [the FIA] could have seen this coming and they have allowed the regulations to be developed with the exhaust going down a tunnel down the side of the car so you don’t get the airflow you once used to have in the older cars,” Millener told Motorsport. com.

“You can also argue that all manufacturers are involved in the design phase so everyone had involvement when these cars were put together. But how quickly something can be changed is not so easy.

“It is important that we don’t rush to make changes. We need to see how much it is actually causing us trouble and one of the suggestions at the very start was to have side exhausts and get rid of the entire exhaust system, but the FIA ​​didn’t want that I believe. It could be an option.

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

“If you jump into something that costs a lot of money for an issue once a year, it is not well spent budget for anyone. I think we have just got 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

The addition of air conditioning units to cars has been tabled, but Millener feels, unless it is made mandatory, then it wouldn’t provide the required solution.

“You could add in air con units but unless everyone has to do it there will always be one team that will say no way because of the extra weight and power needed to run the system,” Millener added.

“I would think Sardinia was going to be our worst event of the season [for heat]Kenya is still going to be warm but we have all got little tweaks that we did for the last rally and are carrying those forward.”

Heading into this weekend’s Safari Rally, WRC teams will continue to run their modified cars and are less concerned by the cockpit heat issue, given Kenya’s fast open stages, and that ambient temperatures are not expected to exceed 25 degrees.

“The verdict [on the changes in Sardinia] was really positive,” Toyota’s technical director Tom Fowler told Motorsport.com. “The crews in Sardinia were really surprised considering how hot it was that the inside of the car wasn’t so bad.

“For sure, we have made some improvements since Portugal and it is working out.

“I think it is OK [for Kenya]. Obviously the lower the speed, the more difficult it is to cool everything.

“Here in Sardinia we had a lot of really slow, average speed stages and still we were OK so I think with Kenya it is a bit more open in most stages so we should be quite OK.”

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