Fanatec is at it again, with yet another real-world partnership to further blur the lines, this time between the World Rally Championship and sim rallying – thanks to a new technical partnership with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.
The 2022 WRC will feature brand new Rally1 regulations, introducing hybridised vehicles including the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1. While the Traxion.GG team is naturally very excited for the season to begin, while we’ve been watching testing footage for the new cars in action, we spotted an interesting steering wheel.
The team will be fielding drivers Gus Greensmith, Craig Breen, Adrien Fourmaux and nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb this coming season, and it transpires that M-Sport and Fanatec have been working together.
A new steering wheel, or control panel, has been developed that will be used on the equally fresh rally machine.
“Working with M-Sport to include Fanatec made parts in the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 for the upcoming WRC season is another example where the line between motorsport and sim racing is becoming harder to define,” highlighted Fanatec CEO, Thomas Jackermeier.
“If a nine-time World Champion like Sébastien Loeb thinks our product is a vital part of the car, then we know we are on the right path.”
The news follows a steller 2021 for the German peripheral manufacturer, who also launched the Podium BMW M4 GT3 and Bentley GT3 Pikes Peak wheels that are interchangeable between a sim racing setup and the race cars. Interestingly, M-Sport was also involved in the development of the Bentley hillclimb vehicle.
“It’s really interesting to see them take this leap into ‘reality’ and they have allowed us to get the most out of the Puma Hybrid Rally1 with their steering wheel control panel,” highlighted WRC driver Craig Breen.
What form this final device will take is as yet unclear. Whether it will be a full steering wheel or a control panel in combination with a type of Universal Hub isn’t confirmed, nor if it will be available to purchase. On social media, Fanatec teased: “More information about what this means for sim racing… soon.”
Fanatec is a keen supporter of rallying, being the in-game partner of the official championship game, WRC 10, and supporting drivers such as Molly Taylor in the 2021 season.
We see this new relationship as another step forward for sim racing, as the Fanatec equipment will be on all four Pumas at the Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo on 20th January 2022. We’ll let you know as soon as further information is available.
Update – here’s the wheel that’s used by the real-world WRC team, after this camera angle during the 2022 WRC season launch.