World Rally Cars Are Filled With Foam

More speed demands improved safety, and the FIA's introduction of side-impact foam last year really made a difference.

Getty ImagesJoan Cros/NurPhoto

As Hyundai World Rally Team's Michel Nandan explains, over fifty meters of unalloyed carbon steel tubes are built into every WRC roll cage. What's more, the FIA put G-force sensors into all cars as well, which engage lights for the marshals in case the driver and co-driver sustain an impact of more than 15 Gs. This way, they can immediately request a helicopter without having to guess the severity of the situation.

Yet 2017's most significant safety upgrade was the introduction of side-impact foam, which is built into the doors and the fenders to absorb most of the energy that used to make its way to internal organs. Since then, many drivers have talked about how happy they are with this material, including Jari-Matti Latvala, Thierry Neuville, and Kris Meeke, who recently got fired by Citroën for testing the foam... perhaps a bit too often.

Getty ImagesQuality Sport Images

Current WRC cars are faster than Group B machinery used to be. The outright turbo power might not be there, but suspension technology, all-wheel drive and aero know-how went wild in the years since the eighties, and using the latest tech, today's WRC cars know how to get the most out of 380 horsepower. Which, mind you, is still a lot. Hence the foam in the panels.

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