There’s often rumours of big cats lurking in the hills of the South Downs. Wild predators snatching sheep or stalking lonely walkers. Unidentified shadows cresting hills and disappearing as quickly as they emerged. On Thursday morning at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, we can confirm one such sighting, as M-Sport Ford became the first WRC team to reveal their next-generation hybrid-powered Puma Rally1 WRC for the highly anticipated 2022 FIA Word Rally Championship.
Ford Puma WRC hybrid unveiled at FOS
Pouncing out of the wet, lush trees at the bottom of the famous Goodwood Hillclimb, the fast feline – based on the Puma road car and replacing the heavily campaigned Ford Fiesta WRC – looks every bit a wild and formidable competitor.
Shaking off its prototype camouflage, the Puma Rally1 WRC is presented here in full hybrid trim with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine boosted by a 136PS (100kW) electric motor and a 3.9kWh battery. The battery charges using regenerative braking able to provide performance boosts and capable of being rejuvenated at sustainable plug-in charging stations in WRC service parks.
Keeping sustainability front of mind, the hybrid setup will be augmented with a 100 per cent fossil-free hydrocarbon-based fuel provided by P1 Racing Fuels. Blending synthetic and bio-degradable elements to keep competitors as green as possible.
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson has confidently put a mark in the sand for the future of the Puma within this future-focused generation, suggesting the new era of WRC cars marks one of the biggest technological advancements in WRC history. A bold claim, but one that we think is accurate.
Witnessing the first of these hybrid WRC weapons sprint up the Goodwood Hill driven in anger by the team’s chief test driver Matthew Wilson and M-Sport Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux brings the rumours, conjecture and whispers to life. The future of WRC and M-Sport Ford is here, and from what we’ve seen of this big cat this morning, there’s plenty to look forward to for the 2022 season. See you in Monte Carlo!
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