FIA Rally Star Training Camp to equip six young talents with vital skills

The Training Camp, which will be held until June 1, has been meticulously planned to equip the FIA Rally Star Training Season participants with expertise and knowledge required ahead of the six-event schedule of national and regional-level rallies from mid-June.

A team of rally industry experts will be on hand to provide crucial advice and guidance, ranging from enhancing skills behind the wheel of the Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally3 they will use during the FIA Rally Star Training Season, pacenote preparation, car set-up, physical and mental coaching, conducting press and TV interviews and good social media practices.

The six drivers will test the four-wheel-drive Fiesta Rally3 on asphalt and gravel and will also complete the reconnaissance for Rally Italia Sardegna at the same time as the drivers contesting round six of the FIA World Rally Championship, which takes place from June 1-4. 

Media activities in and around the Rally Italia Sardegna Service Park will be the focus on the final day of the FIA Rally Star Training Camp on June 1 and will include taking part in a press conference and being interviewed by accredited media.

The FIA Rally Star team of experts includes driver instructors Alexandre Bengué and John Haugland, co-driver instructors Nicolas Klinger and Chris Patterson, performance and mental coaches Brian Cameron, Shaun Philips and James Wozencroft, fitness coach Marek Ołszewski and media trainer Linda Hirvonen. M-Sport Poland team principal Maciej Woda, and engineers Jakub Kalina and Igor Wiśniewicz,  will be among the company’s representatives.

FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid and FIA Road Sport Director Andrew Wheatley will also be in attendance along with FIA Rally Star Project Leader Jérôme Roussel and FIA Rally Star Assistant Project Manager Bryan To. All four will bring their vast knowledge and expertise to the Training Camp.

FIA Rally Star Project Leader Jérôme Roussel said: “The FIA Rally Star Training Season is really taking shape now and it’s very exciting to see everything coming together with a month until the first competitive rally. The Training Camp will provide the first chance for the six participants to gather together and learn from all the experts who will be providing crucial knowledge and advice in a wide range of areas. They will be at the disposal of the drivers and their co-drivers to answer questions, provide important feedback and generally assist with ensuring they are prepared as best as possible for the six rallies they will contest from June onwards. It’s a fantastic opportunity for these very talented youngsters and one I am sure they will all maximise to the fullest.”  

Abdullah Al-Tawqi, 24, Oman: “The Training Camp will teach us young drivers many things, including how rallies work and how we develop our skills from the sporting, fitness and mental side. It will also help us to prepare physically and mentally for the events, prepare strategies and also how to prepare the car. But I also really want to increase the level of my skills as a rally driver and involve myself in a new level of how to think and behave by following the examples of the professionals.”

Jose ‘Abito’ Caparo, 26, Peru: “I want to open my mind to the regulations, to the physical activities, every single point to be more professional, to be more prepared for what I have to do to be a real rally driver. I obviously want to make contacts, make friends, be a part of the team. But I also want to know the way to be a complete team with my co-driver, improve my skills to be not only a good driver but also a good professional and a good athlete physically and mentally.”

Annia Cilloniz, 24, Peru: “Taking part in the FIA Rally Star Training Camp is an amazing opportunity to learn from professionals, it’s like being at a university of motor sport. Learning about how the Ford Fiesta Rally3 works and how we can make changes when I drive the car for the first time and the best way to make and improve pacenotes are the main things I want to learn. But I also want to enjoy the experience, meet my team-mates and get to work with all the people who will be helping us.”
Taylor Gill, 19, Australia: “It’s been 12 years of motor sport in my life and so much hard work to get to this point but the hard work is only just beginning so I can’t wait to get there and experience it then move forward into the rest of the season. I’m really looking forward to the Tarmac driving, that will be really cool. We don’t have European-style Tarmac rallies in Australia but I did six years of karting when I was young so it will be good to get back to the surface I started on. But I’m also looking forward to working in a professional environment with all the guys from the FIA and M-Sport, plus the physical and mental trainers. The recce for Rally Italia Sardegna will also be a massive challenge but an amazing opportunity.”  

Romet Jürgenson, 23, Estonia: “This Training Camp is like no other and perfect for us drivers who are not so experienced. We’ve got sessions from theoretical to practical, also there are experienced people around us who we can ask a lot of questions. They will probably be quite tired of our stupid questions, but we have to start somewhere! All in all, I am really grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to start this new chapter of my life. I’m looking forward to getting my first feeling on Tarmac and gravel with the M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, also working with the ESP trainers to learn new things about myself doing the performance profiling as well as setting goals for the future.”

Max Smart, 20, South Africa: “This is a huge opportunity for me to learn more skills, mindsets and techniques that will help develop me as an up-and-coming rally driver, as well as to get better at working in a team and building good relationships with all the FIA Rally Star programme members. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and am giving it everything to take in all that is taught to me and put in the work to make progress towards becoming a better driver. The Training Camp also means I have an opportunity to find my strengths and weaknesses that I can work on throughout the season and set goals to improve and to go to the first rally of the Training Season with confidence.”

Cilloniz makes flying visit to Portugal’s WRC round
Annia Cilloniz, who qualified for the FIA Rally Star Training Season after winning the Women’s Final in Italy earlier this month, was a visitor to Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round five of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship, last weekend. The Peruvian, 24, whose only previous visit to a WRC event was in Chile in 2019, met WRC drivers Elfyn Evans, Thierry Neuville and Kalle Rovanperä, plus team principals Cyril Abiteboul, Jari-Matti Latvala and Richard Millener. She was also interviewed on the WRC+ All Live service and by several accredited media. “It was amazing to be here, at this historic rally, to see the big teams work.” she said. “I was talking to drivers and it was very interesting to see the amount of time on their pacenotes. This is very important to understand and it would be a dream come true to be in the WRC, I have followed rally all my life.”

FIA Rally Star Training Season event schedule refresher
The FIA Rally Star Training Season will feature six events, four on gravel and two on Tarmac. The seven FIA Rally Star Training Season participants will compete in identical Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally3s run by M-Sport Poland. The event calendar is as follows:

– Rally San Marino (gravel), June 16-17
– Rallye Weiz, Austria (Tarmac), July 13-15
– Rally Nova Gorica, Slovenia (Tarmac), September 22-24
– Rally Saarema, Estonia (Gravel), October 6-7
– RallyRACC, Spain (Gravel), October 20-21
– Lausitz Rallye, Germany (Gravel), November 9-11

A test will take place ahead of each event along with an extensive post-rally debrief following afterwards. The FIA Rally Star Training Season events have been specifically chosen to equip the drivers with experience of a wide variety of conditions and circumstances. 

All costs are covered by the FIA  and the FIA Rally Star partners, with the best four drivers at the completion of the FIA Rally Star Training Season securing a fully-funded season in the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024.


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