We reported all the way back in March 2021 on the FIA Rally Star DLC for WRC 9. The DLC coincided with the announcement of an esports competition to find eligible candidates quick enough in Kylotonn’s WRC 9 game to progress to the Continental Final stages, with the first European leg taking place over last weekend at the German Estering rallycross track.
The prize for the final top four of the worldwide competition is a fully paid drive in the Junior World Rally Championship in 2023. As if that wasn’t good enough, the top three would get a second season in JWRC in 2024, and if any of the three took top honours, a full season of WRC2 awaits in 2025.
In recent, Covid-afflicted times, this represents an extraordinary opportunity for budding rally drivers between the ages of 17 to 26 to get a foot onto the WRC ladder, and is perhaps the biggest prize in esports, especially considering the significant backing of the FIA and Malcolm Wilson’s championship-winning M-Sport organisation.
Over three days, the candidates faced a number of physical and mental challenges, including laps in Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive TN5 Cross Cars and interview technique assessments. As well as current WRC star Neuville, the judging panel consisted of former Team Manager of FIA World Championship-winning rallycross team PSRX, Pernilla Solberg, Pirelli’s Rally Activity Manager Terenzio Testoni and Malcolm Wilson. The panel was chaired by the FIA’s Deputy President for Sport and former WRC-winning co-driver, Robert Reid.
The FIA Rally Star’s Continental Finals take place throughout 2022, with the six winners joining a guaranteed female competition in a learning year in 2023, featuring six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally-3 machine with additional practical and mental training.
Swede Maja Hallén Fellenius and Katie Milner of Great Britain progress to the Women’s World Final as they impressed the judges equally, feeling they were both too talented to miss out on a chance to win the competition overall.
The winner of the overall European contest was Estonian Romet Jürgenson, 22. In an FIA interview he was naturally delighted: “To experience the pressure of a competition like this and come out with some success is good training for my future career.” With Estonia featuring top WRC talent like Markko Märtin, and a World Champion in 2019 victor Ott Tänak, perhaps we have another Estonian rally star in the making?
What are your thoughts on the FIA Rally Star competition? Do you think it’s the biggest prize in sim racing? Let us know in the comments below.
Pictures courtesy of FIA Rally Star