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The FIA has announced its innovative rally driver development programme, FIA Rally Star, a global, FIF-funded programme to detect, train and develop talented young drivers. The best young people between 17 and 25 years old will eventually be able to join the World Rally Championship, benefiting from a sporting programme set up by the FIA and its partners. At the heart of the FIA's strategy for the development of rallying throughout the world, FIA Rally Star aims to encourage the emergence of a new generation of drivers and to identify those with the greatest potential to target a professional career. The programme is funded by the FIA Innovation Fund (FIF), which aims at supporting innovative and high-impact initiatives that generate lasting benefits for the FIA community. The initial plan is to concentrate on Digital Motorsport, using driving simulators and the FIA Rally Star partner video game and also Motorkhana, which involves manoeuvring a production vehicle through a handling course. The second phase of the programme will be a tour of six continental finals organised by the FIA in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Asia-Pacific, South America and North America. Candidates selected by the ASNs will compete against the clock at the wheel of XC Cross Cars to win one of the seven seats granted: one per continent, plus one for the best woman driver in the world. This group of seven youngsters will then benefit from an intensive season of training, including personal coaching, testing sessions and participation in a minimum of six rallies at the wheel of Rally3 cars. This development programme will identify the four most promising drivers, including at least one female competitor, who will then join the FIA Junior WRC. Over the next two seasons, these future stars will need to demonstrate that they can compete for victories and then for the title, as a full season in FIA WRC 3 will be the ultimate reward for a FIA Rally Star driver winning the championship. FIA’s Rally Director Yves Matton commented: ”FIA Rally Star has been created to develop rally awareness all around the globe, but also scout and nurture a new generation of drivers with the aim to find a future WRC Champion wherever they are, whoever he or she is. "By using grassroots disciplines such as Digital Motorsport and Motorkhana, we will be able to give many young enthusiasts their chance. The most promising will then benefit from a tailor-made development programme, ultimately enabling them to join the WRC. "Using FIA Rally Star, we hope to find a future World Champion, wherever they are, whoever he or she is.” The official launch of the project is scheduled for mid-June, during the FIA Sport Conference in Thailand. = = = =

Ott Tanak was second in Sweden, and now prepares for Rally Mexico. Photo: Peter Whitten

Hyundai Motorsport drivers Dani Sordo and Ott Tanak are to participate in the Rallye Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras in North Portugal (27-29 February). This will be in preparation for the first fully gravel WRC event of the year, in Mexico, driving i20 Coupe World Rally Cars. In more Portuguese news, Bruno Magalhaes is to contest the eight round FIA European Rally Championship this year in a Hyundai i20 R5. More Mexican WRC news: the recent completion of the proposed highway from Leon to Silao provides a welcome major improvement to the roads in the region, which previously had been hampered by the former narrow direct road past Guanajuato airport. = = = =

Oliver Ciesla has stepped won as CEO of the WRC Promoter.

Oliver Ciesla announced last week he would step down as CEO of the WRC Promoter, declared with no replacement yet planned. This was shortly after the catastrophic Swedish Rally, during which the FIA changed championship rules when weather problems led to cancellation of large parts of the traditional winter event.
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