FIA crowns first winners of new WRC rally talent hunt

Open to 17-26 year old aspiring rally drivers, the new FIA initiative aims to pave the way for future talent up the World Rally Championship pyramid.

Este Jurgenson was declared the winner of the European final, which saw 89 finalists from 22 nations, held last weekend at the German Rallycross circuit in Estering.

The 22-year-old passed a series of challenges including a physical driving element involving Cross Cars, a digital competition, reflex and skill tests, as well as a formal interview and evaluation with the FIA ​​Rally Star Jury chaired by Robert Reid, the FIA ​​Vice-President .

The jury also included Hyundai factory WRC driver Thierry Neuville, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson, Pernilla Solberg, class winner and wife of 2003 FIA WRC champion Petter Solberg and Pirelli rally boss Terenzio Testoni.

Jurgenson, who earned his place in the finals after winning one of the initiative’s esports challenges, has now won a drive in an M-Sport Rally3 Fiesta in six yet to be named rallies in 2023. He will be joined by five other regional finalists from around the world and winner of the women’s competition. The Swede Patrik Hallberg was selected as the reserve driver.

At the end of 2023, the top four members will earn a season in the FIA ​​Junior WRC Championship in 2024. For 2025, three drivers will go into a second Junior WRC season and if one of the FIA ​​Rally Star Team members wins the title, they’ll be yours a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car for 2026.

“I’m so proud to receive this award, I’m honestly speechless,” Jurgenson said.

“The whole experience was great. I have to thank the FIA ​​and all the people who put this program together.

“Experiencing the pressure of such a competition and coming out with success is good training for my later career.”

FIA Rally Star Cross car

Photo by: FIA

The women’s prize was shared by Swede Maja Hallén Fellenius and British McLaren GT development driver Katie Milner from Great Britain. Both will reach the Women’s World Finals in the United States later this year.

“It’s unreal, I have no words, it’s crazy. I’ve been in motorsport for nine years now, driving go-karts and single-seaters, but mainly track racing with asphalt and more grip,” said Fellenius.

“My learning curve was enormous in those three days. I competed in the first edition of the FIA ​​Girls on Track so I feel I had a good head start for competitions like this. I’m really looking forward to the final and to going to North America.”

Milner added: “I came here with no expectations, started with a wildcard, it’s a different riding style for me too.

“I’ve really enjoyed the journey so far, all the practice, it was my first time going from gravel to tarmac on a rallycross track, learning to be under pressure, loved it.

“I’ve raced in British GT but I came to a crossroads. This opportunity came up, so I said to myself, “Why don’t you give it a try and see what happens?”. I have to pull myself together now, focus on training for the women’s final in America and keep my fingers crossed.”

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