With four female drivers among the 26 aspiring FIA World Rally Championship contenders, the participants were split into five groups of four plus one group of six.
Equipped with TN5 Cross Cars from FIA World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation, the competitors tackled a 1300-metre stage, which featured additional gravel and asphalt sections from the layout used on day one.
The stage was set up in such a way that two individual loops were created to increase the challenge facing the drivers and to give more opportunity for the Jury members to assess the performances of each competitor.
And with a day spent building their confidence behind the wheel of the TN5 Cross Car on Monday, today’s running gave an opportunity for drivers to focus on stage times in warm conditions that ranged from sunny to cloudy.
The top two from each group qualified for Wednesday’s final with two drivers progressing from the Digital Challenge. This used a modified version of Nacon’s WRC 9 game and provided an alternative method for reaching the deciding Stage 3 for those drivers eliminated after Stage 2.
Of the 13 finalists, two are female drivers, underlining the accessible nature of the FIA Rally Star concept, which aims to increase motor sport participation around the world by removing any barriers of entry.
The following drivers have qualified for Stage 3, Wednesday’s final:
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.
Jérôme Roussel, FIA Rally Star Project Leader: “It’s great to be in India for this event, because the country has the largest youth population in the world, so it makes sense to be here for the Asia-Pacific Continental Final. And it’s great to see all these young people from this region gathering here for the FIA Rally Star event.
“The ASNs did a great job to select their best candidates. We have seen yesterday during the first stage was highly competitive, and the drivers are getting better and better. We had some ASNs that were dedicated to digital motor sport and some to slalom selections, but we can see that the level is very close between all these young people.”
Vicky Chandhok, Co-Coordinator – APRC: “It is the greatest program that we have ever got, it is a privilege to have this event in India. It is also an eye-opener to see all the talents from other countries, but it is also amazing to have a scholarship program that gives the opportunity to the winner to drive six rallies next year. All of that is very special for the Madras Motor Sport Club and also for our ASN [Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India].
Jagjeet Singh, ASN representative for Motorsport Association of Malaysia: “Thanks to this program, we enabled the younger generation that wasn’t interested in rallying, to try the discipline. We do have a big slalom team in Asia, and now as slalom is relevant regarding the scouting of future rally drivers, we took that opportunity.
We now know that programs like these are great for the young generation, they don’t need to have any experience as several drivers that are here [representing Motorsport Association of Malaysia] have never driven before, there is one driver that does esport and is very good. It goes to show, that no matter your background and experience, the FIA Rally Star is an amazing opportunity.”
Jayden Chia, FIA Rally Star Competitor: “I’m really excited to be here, we don’t get a chance to try these cross cars at home, so this gives us a chance to experience something like this and it is the first time I’m driving in real condition!
As a sim racer, esport helped me a lot to drive these on track, with car control, catching the car while sliding, and braking. It also trains us mentally and how to perform under pressure.”
Irushi Chandrathilake, FIA Rally Star Competitor: “I’m very happy to be here, it’s a thrilling and new experience to drive that cross car. I’m very thankful to the Rally Star project and the FIA for organizing such an event for all of us, by giving us the opportunity to go higher in the world of motor sport, and I have enjoyed it a lot so far!
There is only a small number of women in motorsport, we are really happy to get this opportunity that is given. I’m privileged to get this opportunity as a woman from Sri Lanka to get to participate in this event and I think this kind of program is very helpful for us and it will also push women to get into motor sport.”