Regional final candidates dreaming of WRC drive face intense competition at Yas Marina Circuit
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The focus of the first FIA Rally Star Training Season switches this weekend to Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi where the Middle East and North African Final winner will be crowned.
From Friday to Sunday, the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO) will host the FIA Rally Star Middle East and North African Final using purpose-built stage layouts located within the state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi Grand Prix venue.
Candidates from nine countries within the region, dreaming of one day competing in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), will go for a life-changing opportunity by undertaking a series of timed tests and assessments.
The results will be used to determine who will join the FIA Rally Star European Final winner, Estonia’s Romet Jürgenson, in the inaugural FIA Rally Star Training Season in 2023.
EMSO President Khalid Bin Sulayem, said, “We are delighted to host the Middle East and North African FIA Rally Star final. Our mission is to develop motor sport at both national and international level, and rally has always occupied an important place in our country’s motor sport heritage.”
“Last week some of the world’s best cross-country competitors were celebrated here during the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, round two of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, and now the focus turns to grassroots rallying and the next generation of champions in the discipline.”
In total, 24 candidates will contest the FIA Rally Star Middle East and North African Final, having qualified via Digital or Slalom Challenges held virtually within their country or online, or as a wildcard nominated by a National Sporting Authority (ASN).
Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and UAE are all represented in the MENA regional final at Yas Marina Circuit. Tests include timed training runs in the TN5 Cross Car from FIA World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation.
It is the second of six FIA Rally Star Continental Finals in 2022, and follows January’s European Final held at the Estering in Germany. The results of the Continental Finals decide six of the seven FIA Rally Star Team members for 2023, with the seventh member coming from an all-female final contested later this year by the best-performing woman in each of the six Continental Finals.
The 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season includes six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, as well as physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing. The aim is to equip the successful contestants with the attributes they need as they attempt to secure a drive in the FIA World Rally Championship in the future.
At the end of 2023, the best four FIA Rally Star Team members are rewarded with a season in the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024. For 2025, three drivers go forward into a second Junior WRC season. If one of the FIA Rally Star Team members wins the title, they secure a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car for 2026, with a Rally1 drive their next target.
Apart from any initial registration fee, plus travel costs for national selections and the Continental Final, all other costs are covered by the FIA with support from the FIA Innovation Fund together with FIA Rally Star partners. Taking into consideration the 2023 Training Season, plus two years in the Junior WRC, that essentially means three seasons of rallying free of charge for three drivers.
FIA Rally Star Team members will also benefit considerably in terms of the experience and skills gained in 2023, plus the opportunity to showcase their ability to media outlets and potential sponsors and partners, rally teams and car manufacturers.