The Rally Star program is the FIA’s initiative with the aim to find regional rallying talent, with a driver from each continent given the chance to ‘be the next one’.

Of the six drivers that contested the program in 2023, four of them have been selected to progress, with a Junior World Rally Championship season waiting them in 2024.

Taylor Gill (Australia), Romet Jurgenson (Estonia), Jose Abito Caparo (Peru), and Max Smart (South Africa) were the four drivers to be chosen to continue, with the FIA making their decision based on speed, improvement, potential, and a range of other factors.

Gill’s performance throughout the year was impressive – he was the only driver to finish every rally, and he took three Rally Star wins in the six events.

“I thought we had a pretty good chance of moving forward, but that didn’t settle any of my nerves,” Gill said. 

“The FIA made it very clear that speed alone wouldn’t mean you progressed, so I did everything I could to present the whole package – and clearly it worked.”

The progression gives Gill and co-driver Daniel Brkic a full season in the Junior World Rally Championship, driving a Ford Fiesta Rally3.

Taylor Gill's JWRC season gets underway in Sweden in Feb.

He will compete on the snow in Sweden, the tarmac in Croatia, and then finish off with three events on gravel in Italy, Finland and Greece, where he will face stiff competition from not only his fellow Rally Star drivers, but also the rest of the JWRC field.

“The rallies in 2023 were small, national championship events, where 2024 will be the whole hog of WRC,” he explained.

“The variety of events in the JWRC is vast and the FIA have done this on purpose. The snow in Sweden, and tarmac in Croatia are very unique, and the three gravel events are very different, with one fast, one rough, and one somewhere in between.”

Gill and Brkic will continue to live in their Finnish hometown Vaaksy, where they will continue to work for rally leasing company Dogbox Oy.

It’s a lifestyle that they have gotten used to nicely across 2023, and look forward to continuing it in 2024.

“We became accustomed to the life in Finland, and I think in 2024 it is going to be a lot more normal.

“In 2023 four of our six events were within two months, so we rarely had more than a couple of days at home towards the end of the year.

“With the more spread out JWRC calendar we will be able to have more of a normal life and work more consistently.”

In terms of his JWRC goals, it’s obvious – be fast – however Gill understands that this is not going to come automatically, and he will need to put in the work with his co-driver to ensure he’s on the pace.

Gill will again drive a Ford Fiesta Rally3 prepared by M-Sport Poland.

With competition from his Rally Star counterparts, as well as the other JWRC competitors, it’s not going to be an easy task.

“The continued development of not only us, but the other drivers in the program has been evident over 2023, and to be stepping up to the JWRC is only going to mean we need to be faster again.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

After some time in Australia over summer, Gill will return to Finland in mid-January and begin his preparations for Rally Sweden in mid February.

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Matthew Whitten

Matt is the third of the RallySport Magazine crew. He is an avid rally fan and aspiring co-driver.
Matt is the third of the RallySport Magazine crew. He is an avid rally fan and aspiring co-driver.

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