DUNTON, England, April 8, 2013 – Ford’s Fiesta R2 rally car will provide the platform for the world’s best young drivers to showcase their skills when the 2013 FIA Junior WRC Championship begins at Rally de Portugal this week.
Ten young hot-shots from eight different countries will compete in identical Fiesta R2 cars on gravel roads in southern Portugal’s Algarve region.
It is the first of six rounds in the Junior WRC series, which supports the FIA World Rally Championship. It provides the first step on the ladder for potential stars of the future to display their talent on the world stage.
Having been the car of choice for the 2012 FIA WRC Academy, the Fiesta R2 was again selected as the designated vehicle when the series took on official Junior WRC status for 2013. All cars will be supplied, prepared and maintained during the six rounds by Ford’s long-term rally partner, M-Sport, at premises in Krakow, Poland.
The series comprises gravel events in Portugal, Greece and Finland, asphalt rounds in Germany and France and a mixed-surface rally in Spain to close the championship. Only drivers born on or after 1 January 1986 are eligible.
All 10 contenders have their eyes set on landing the top prize of an M-Sport supported drive in a Ford Fiesta R5 in next season’s FIA WRC 2 Championship, the principal feeder series to the WRC itself.
Three drivers – Yeray Lemes (ESP), José Suárez (ESP) and Pontus Tidemand (SWE) – have contested the series in previous years. They will be joined by newcomers Sander Parn (EST), Martin Koči (SVK), Andreas Amberg (FIN), Murat Bostanci (TUR), Michael Burri (CHE), Niko Nieminen (FIN) and Marius Aasen (NOR).
Ford Racing’s European manager, Gerard Quinn, said he looked forward to another exciting year’s competition as the Fiesta R2 provided a springboard for youngsters’ careers.
“The series is a breeding ground for future stars and the Fiesta R2 will again provide the perfect means for them to show their abilities in front of the sport’s decision-makers and top team managers. The two previous winners of this category have progressed to a level of competition just below the WRC itself.” he said.
“The Fiesta R2 is a fantastic car for those honing their skills. With all 10 drivers competing in identical vehicles, a clear picture will emerge as the season progresses of who has the speed, intelligence and tactical know-how to move up the ranks,” added Quinn.
Last year’s WRC Academy champion, Welshman Elfyn Evans, will launch his prize campaign in Portugal when he pilots a Fiesta RRC in the WRC 2 category as part of the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team.
The Junior WRC covers the first two of Rally de Portugal’s three legs. It gets under way with a ceremonial start in Vilamoura on Thursday (11 April) and finishes in Faro on Saturday (13 April) after 11 special stages covering 239.09km.