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Young Australian World Rally Championship rookie Molly Taylor has begun three days of testing for a place in the inaugural FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy.

Eighteen drivers are taking part in the shoot-out for one of 10 places in the Academy. They started the week being put through their paces on the track, at the gym and in the classroom with a variety of driving, fitness and team-building tests.

Taylor, 22, already has an exciting year lined up, as one of just six young drivers to win a ‘scholarship’ to take part in the FIA WRC Academy, a sub-series of the elite World Rally Championship, along with fellow Australian, Brendan Reeves.

The WRC Academy is a specially tailored training program designed to develop the best young rally drivers into world-class competitors. They will contest six European rounds of the world series in identical Fiesta R2s.

But the Academy is something different again. Its goal is to prepare young drivers to compete at the top of their sport, to increase skills in the area of driver and road safety and to actively promote safety, fairness and responsibility both on and off the track. The successful 10 for the inaugural program will be announced later this week.

“This programme represents a major breakthrough in motor sport training,” says the Institute’s performance manager and former F1 driver, Alex Wurz.
 
“Even at the highest level, among some of my colleagues in Formula One, I have seen them relying only on their driving and not realising the potential that an initiative like this unlocks.”
 
The driving elements of the day included an examination of various skills behind the wheel before the participants moved to the gym where they were put through a mixture of exercises to test muscle strength and endurance for the key areas associated with high performance motor sport athletes.
 
Intelligence, common sense and the ability to multi-task came to the fore in the classroom, where the 18 drivers were set a variety of team assignments, including producing a paper aeroplane capable of flying 10 metres, solving equations for fuel loads and answering complex questions.
 
The next stage of the assessment is designed to see how each competitor improves in each area and how they cope with the possibility of someone else being better – and worse – at each test than they are.
 
“Today was hard work but I got a huge amount out of it,” says Taylor.

“It’s always good to be put in these environments, surrounded by so many competitive people, to be really thrown in at the deep end. For me, I’m very overwhelmed by the company that I’m in, so it’s easy to feel a bit intimidated by that, but you can learn a lot from those people. You have to perform under pressure and that’s everything you do on the stage in a rally.

“I came over to the UK to throw everything I had into a motor sport career and an opportunity like this, to be part of a new initiative with the FIA Institute is great. I don’t have a huge budget, so to have the potential to have access to people with so much experience is a fantastic way to try and further my career.”
 

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