The fourth Continental Final to decide the latest participant in the FIA Rally Star Training Season in 2023 is being held at the Madras International Circuit in Chennai, the country’s first permanent racing circuit.
Of the 40 FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final contenders, six are women, while most of them have no previous experience of driving cross cars, which are used in all FIA Rally Star Continental Finals to allow drivers to showcase their skills – and for the Jury members to assess their capabilities behind the wheel.
The drivers were split into seven groups for Stage 1, which used a mixed-surface layout measuring approximately 750 metres in length. They were allowed two reconnaissance runs plus two timed runs in the Pirelli-equipped TN5 Cross Car from FIA World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation.
At the completion of today’s first competitive action, held in warm but changing conditions, the top three from each group plus the next five fastest drivers regardless of their group were confirmed as having qualified for Stage 2 tomorrow (Tuesday) when a layout measuring 1400 metres will provide the next challenge for the drivers.
The following drivers have qualified for Stage 2:
A modified version of Nacon’s WRC 9 game will be used for the Digital Challenge, which provides an alternative method for reaching the deciding Stage 3 on Wednesday for drivers eliminated after Stage 2.
The FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final winner plus the driver progressing to the Women’s Final later this year will be announced at 17:00 local time on Wednesday after all drivers have been interviewed by the Jury.
Whoever wins the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final will have the honour of representing the region in the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season. In addition to six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, the Training Season package includes physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing. The aim is to equip the successful contestants with the attributes they need as they attempt to secure a drive in the FIA World Rally Championship in the future.
The FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final is closed to spectators.
Pernilla Solberg, Jury Member: “It’s a great event to promote young drivers from all over the world as we are here in India.
Hopefully, we can give them some advice, the main purpose for them, is not to give up, even if they don’t win the event, they still have a long career ahead of them, this is just the beginning. You never know. It’s all about opportunities in rallying, all about getting the chance, and when they meet people, the doors open, so I think it is a very valuable experience.”
Maciej Woda, Jury Member: “The FIA Rally Star is an amazing opportunity for young drivers, as they can show their skills and seek opportunities in motorsport.
And from what I have seen so far, it is very encouraging that our Continental Final winners there are pushing their way to become successful rally drivers, and it would be great to discover a new talent from this big region.
[The FIA Rally Star] brings the sport to a lot of people and countries and hopefully, we will see many representatives of those countries in WRC in the future.”
Niroshan Pereira, FIA Secretary of Asia-Pacific region & E-Sport commission president: “This initiative [FIA Rally Star] has brought a lot of enthusiasm amongst the ASNs in Asia. We are happy to see so many drivers here, as they have qualified through many different disciplines such as e-sport and slalom and it’s a great opportunity to get into motor sport. I’m sure most of the countries had a difficult task organising those challenges as there have been many entries for this event.”
Taylor Gill, FIA Rally Star Competitor: “I’m very excited to be here, it’s such a cool opportunity and it’s a really good innovation that the FIA has put on, it’s a long trip but it’s great to be here!
The cross car is cool and very interesting, but very different from what I have driven before, mostly the clutch that is very bizarre, but they are good fun to drive.
There are a lot of people that work in the [motor sport] industry, it’s great to get some knowledge from them and it gives also some interest to motor sport”
Pragathi Gowda, FIA Rally Star Competitor: “FIA Rally Star is a dream come true, I have never driven a cross car before as I never had the opportunity. With an 850CC, the cross-car is amazing to drive, mostly when you go through the gears!
It’s a great event that the FIA has come up with, as it’s a big opportunity for all men and women participating and I’m very happy to be here.”