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Heat, a major concern for drivers ahead of WRC Safari Rally

Teams complain of intense heat in the cockpit generated from the exhaust

NAIVASHA, KENYA - JUNE 23: Lorenzo Bertelli of Italy and Simone Scattolin of Italy compete with their M-Sport FORD WRT Ford Fiesta WRC during the Shakedown of the FIA World Rally Championship Kenya on June 23, 2021 in Naivasha, Kenya. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

Heat generated from the exhaust on the new Rally1 cars could be a challenge for drivers ahead of the World Rally Championship (WRC) sixth round in Naivasha, set for June 23-26.

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The concern was expressed by some drivers and team principles after the former complained of sweltering heat in the cockpit with some co-drivers revealing they "felt their shoes melt" from the extreme conditions at Vodafone Rally de Portugal this weekend.

The 55th edition of Rally de Portugal held in Matosinhos in the Porto District saw drivers battle 330.17 km distance split between 21 stages in which temperatures averaged 22 degrees Celsius with little to no cloud cover nor precipitation.

After the race, Irish driver Craig Breen explained how difficult it was for his co-driver Paul Nagle to concentrate fully on the race due to the intense heat felt in the cockpit.

"Physically, I was fit to drive, but it was anything but comfortable. I could feel Paul's shoes melt on the floor. Yesterday he had to lift his foot several times to be sure not to get burned, so it's really not good," Breen told DirtFish.

Hyundai Motorsport deputy team principal Julian Moncet expressed a similar concern, warning fans and the FIA that teams might struggle in Naivasha owing to the fact temperatures are forecasted to hit as high as 26 degrees Celsius if not more.

"In Kenya, I'm not even sure that they will be able to finish some stages. It's really a problem," Moncet told DirtFish whose team had identified the issue during the mock-rally test of its i20 N Rally1 in October 2021.

Part of the problem lies with the position of the exhaust on the new Rally1 cars. The exhaust currently runs on the right hand side of the vehicles where the co-driver seat is positioned therefore generating intense heat underneath their seats.

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