What’s the point of having the car keys if you can’t afford the fuel? It’s a common problem., and one the FIA Junior World Rally Championship has been aware of for a number of years.
It’s all very well the Junior World Rally Champion winning a brand new Ford Fiesta Rally2 – but what’s the use of that if there’s no cash to run in WRC3? Typically, Maciej Woda has found a solution.
FIA Junior WRC team director Woda wants to keep his series graduates on the right track – he wants to see them follow in the footsteps of previous WRC category winners like Sébastien Loeb, Elfyn Evans, and Craig Breen – and he understands that not everybody can find the budget for a Rally2-based campaign.
While the Fiesta Rally2 is very much still up for grabs (along with the 200 Pirelli tires, free registration for the 2022 WRC3 Championship and free entries for five 2022 WRC rounds – ownership of the Fiesta Rally2 is conditional on participation in those five WRC rallies in 2022), there’s the alternative option of five fully funded drives in a four-wheel drive M-Sport Poland-built Fiesta Rally3 on five selected WRC rallies in 2022.
This prize, fully supported by M-Sport, Pirelli, WRC Promoter and the FIA, still includes registration for the WRC’s Rally3 category championship – a class award still to be announced.
Woda said: “It is of paramount importance to FIA Junior WRC and our stakeholders that drivers are able to develop and progress their WRC careers after winning the FIA Junior WRC Championship.
“We have consulted current, former and potential Junior WRC drivers about the prize package and taken their feedback on board which is crucial to running any successful championship. By introducing the alternative prize package, we are recognising the challenge that all drivers face when stepping up to a higher category.
“M-Sport, for good reason, has worked hard to develop its Ladder of Opportunity which reflects the FIA’s Rally Car Pyramid. Thankfully we are in a fortunate position to offer a car at every level of the FIA Rally Car Pyramid and, with the introduction of the Rally3 category, there is now a more accessible entry-level tier for four-wheel drive machinery.
“The new Fiesta Rally3 allows us to offer five fully funded prize drives in the WRC in four-wheel drive machinery as opposed to expecting the champion to obtain budget to run a Rally2 car on five WRC rounds. Should the champion have the resources in place to run a Rally2 program, that’s fantastic and we wouldn’t discourage them from doing so.
“The objective of the alternative prize package is simply to safeguard the champion’s future of competing on WRC events. We hope in turn this will encourage more drivers to look at Junior WRC as a viable option too knowing there is a more accessible prize option. The pedigree and history of the championship highlights just how much talent our champions have, we want to be able to make sure this year’s champion has every opportunity to show their skill after winning the championship.”
This year’s Junior WRC calendar was announced last week and starts in Croatia in April before heading to the more familiar territory of Portugal and Estonia before another new addition with Belgium’s Ypres Rally. The fifth and final round runs in Spain in October.
And it’ll be on the seafront in Salou that the winner will face the question of what to do with the rallying’s biggest prize.