Hyundai Motorsport has teamed up with the FIA to launch the FIA Rally Champions World Tour which seeks to showcase regional rallying talent on the world stage.
Beginning this year, champions from the FIA-sanctioned regional rally championships of Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and Latin America, the Middle East and South America will be awarded a prize drive in the new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on a round of the 2022 World Rally Championship.
The exact round the winner chooses will be down to them, and the program is scheduled to also be in place for for the next two years’ champions as well. While the European Rally Championship is not included, the 2021 ERC1 Junior champion is already to set to get a Junior WRC seat next year.
Hyundai Customer Racing has a strong Junior program in Europe and WRC2, and it wants to keep playing an active role in developing young rallying talent.
“Helping to bring through the next generation of WRC champions is an important part of the work of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department,” said the department’s manager Andrew Johns.
“The versatility of the Rally2 category as the go-to class for national and regional series allows us to follow and support crews as they progress up the career ladder.
He added: “There are hugely talented crews competing in all of the FIA’s regional rally series.
“The FIA Rally Champions World Tour offers them an opportunity to show their skills on the global level, and thanks to our extensive testing and development the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 is the perfect car for them to take the next step in their sporting careers.”
FIA rally director Yves Matton is pleased to see this initiative come off the ground as it will “contribute to boost FIA regional championships” and “make them more attractive to competitors across all continents”, and has proposed his own initiatives to bring more young drivers to the WRC on a cameo basis.
“Furthermore, by creating a pathway for competitors from non-European nationalities to the top of the rally pyramid, it will provide greater diversity in the WRC and generate positive media coverage, thanks notably to the attendance of regional heroes at flagship events on their continent, with a chance for them to join the world level the following year in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car.”
The FIA already has its own talent breeding scheme, Rally Star, but this is largely based on Esports and autotesting.