Despite heavy rain, the contestants from Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and USA impressed in the difficult conditions with several getting their first taste of real-life motor sport competition having built their experience driving online.

Today’s opening stage used a 930-metre layout and featured sections on gravel and asphalt to add to the challenge facing the FIA World Rally Championship hopefuls.

The eight female and 34 male drivers were split into seven groups of six. Following two reconnaissance runs, they each were given one opportunity to complete the stage against the clock in both directions in a TN5 Cross Car built and prepared by Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation.

Due to difficult weather conditions, the three remaining groups from Stage 1 will finish their runs tomorrow morning.

A total of 30 drivers will be qualified for Stage 2, Tuesday’s Semi-Final, when a new stage layout at the Maggiora Offroad Arena will challenge the FIA Rally Star American Finalists.

Those eliminated during Stage 2 register to contest the Digital Challenge, which provides an alternative route to Wednesday’s Final for the fastest driver. However, those drivers eliminated in Stage 1 will not be eligible for the Digital Challenge.

The FIA Rally Star American Final is the last of five Continental Finals scheduled and follows on from the European, Middle East and North African, African and Asia-Pacific shootout events held previously. The winners of these four finals, the American Final winner, plus the Women’s Final winner on Thursday, will enter the FIA Rally Star Training Season, which includes extensive training, preparation and assessment, plus six national- or regional-level rallies from June onwards.

Contestants in the FIA Rally Star American Final qualified through Digital Challenges or Slalom Challenges organised by National Sporting Authorities (ASNs) or online through #RallyAtHome Challenges managed by the FIA Rally Star administration.

While the experience of the contestants differs with some only having had the opportunity to compete online, they have approached the event at the Maggiora Offroad Arena with the shared goal of trying to be the recipient of a place in the upcoming FIA Rally Star Training Season when they will savour a truly life-changing experience. And with the four drivers who impress the most during the FIA Rally Star Training Season stepping up to the FIA Junior WRC Championship for 2024 as their prize, FIA Rally Star provides an incredible chance for young talents around the world to live their dreams at little or no personal expense.

The winner of the FIA Rally Star American Final and the driver progressing to the FIA Rally Star Women’s Final on May 4 will be announced at approximately 17h00 local time this Wednesday after all drivers have been interviewed by the five-person Jury, which is being presided over by FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid. The winner of the FIA Rally Star Women’s Final will be announced during the afternoon of Thursday. The FIA Rally Star American and Women’s Finals are closed to spectators.

Andrew Wheatley, FIA Rally Director said: “The FIA Rally Star selection process gives an opportunity to young drivers from all around the world who maybe don’t have the chance to be able to come through national selection processes.  This is the opportunity for them to come and compete at the highest level around the world.”

Nil Solans, FIA Rally Star jury member said: “At the end of the day, this is rallying and you can find all types of conditions. Today, the weather conditions have been challenging. The track contained a mix of tarmac and gravel, which had turned into mud and it was really slippery. The drivers have had to adapt to different driving styles throughout the day and correctly judge the tricky grip-levels. It has been very a demanding day and it was great to be able to find those skills in these drivers.”

At the end of the day, this is a rally, and you can find in it different kinds of conditions. Today, the weather conditions are challenging. There is asphalt, gravel and now mud. So it’s quite slippery. The drivers have to adapt, try to drive in a different style throughout and judge the grip. So it’s very demanding and it’s great to be able to find those skills in these drivers.

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