The FIA Rally Star European Final at the Estering rallycross track in Buxtehude, northern Germany, is the first of six FIA Rally Star Continental Finals taking place in 2022.
Results of the Continental Finals will 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.
Up for grabs at the Estering is a place, as Europe’s representative, in the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season, which includes six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, plus physical and mental assessment, driver coaching and testing. The aim is to equip the successful contestants with the attributes they need as they attempt to secure a dream drive in the FIA World Rally Championship.
At the end of 2023, the best four FIA Rally Star Team members will earn a season in the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024. For 2025, three drivers will go forward into a second Junior WRC season. And if one of the FIA Rally Star Team members wins the title, they will secure a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car for 2026 with a Rally1 drive their next target.
Apart from any initial registration fee that may be charged by an ASN to take part in a national selection event, plus travel costs to and from national selections and the Continental Final, all other costs will be fully covered by the FIA with support from the FIA Innovation Fund together with the other FIA Rally Star partners. The partners are M-Sport, Pirelli, the FIA World Rally Championship, Nacon, Thrustmaster, Playseat, Digital-Motorsports.com, OMP and LifeLive.
Taking into consideration the Training Season in 2023, plus two years in the Junior WRC, that essentially means three seasons of rallying free of charge for three drivers. Furthermore, all FIA Rally Star Team members will 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.
FIA Rally Star European Continental Final: how it works
The FIA Rally Star European Continental Final will take place over three days from January 28-30 with all elements held at the Estering southwest of Hamburg.
On day one (Friday January 28), drivers will be split into groups with each driver having one reconnaissance run, plus two timed runs over Stage 1, which will measure approximately 750 metres in length.
The top three in each group after Stage 1 will progress to Stage 2 on January 29. Drivers will be allowed to undertake a single reconnaissance run followed by two timed runs of the 2.0-kilometre test.
Stage 3, measuring approximately 3.0 kilometres, is for the top 10 drivers in the general classification after Stage 2 and is scheduled for January 30. As before, each driver will have one reconnaissance run plus two timed passes through Stage 3.
The TN5 Cross Car from Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation will be used by all drivers tackling the timed stages. The Cross Car (XC) category is off-road motor sport’s equivalent to karting. XCs are accessible and affordable single-seaters using a tubular spaceframe chassis powered by a motorcycle engine and provide young drivers with the opportunity to build their skills on gravel before they are old enough to hold a driving licence. Pirelli will fit all TN5 XCs with tyres designed for ensuring rally-level grip and performance.
Drivers not progressing after Stage 1 or Stage 2 can register for the Digital Challenge as a means of reaching the next stage of the competition. Candidates finishing in fourth or fifth in each group after Stage 1 or in positions 11 to 20th in the overall classification after Stage 2 can register for what will serve as a bonus round. A modified version of the FIA Rally Star DLC on WRC 9 will be used for the Digital Challenge.
Classifications will be published after each stage with the final FIA Rally Star European Final classification based on these results plus other performances such as media interviews conducted during the event. These performances will be considered by a five-person Jury, who will decide the winner of the FIA Rally Star European Final, plus Europe’s female nominee for the 2023 FIA Rally Star Team. The two winners will be announced at the Estering on the evening of Sunday January 30.
Who’s taking part?
Of the 82 drivers expected to contest the FIA Rally Star European Final, there are 67 men and 15 women. They are among 1440 individuals who took part in national selection events organised by ASNs or from a list of 4147 who participated in the #RallyAtHome Challenges organised online on WRC 9. A handful of wildcards have also been invited to take part in the FIA Rally Star European Final.
There were 42 national selection events organised in 18 countries during 2021 featuring Digital or Slalom Challenges or a combination of both, while 17 #RallyAtHome Challenges took place. The deadline for all finalists to register for the FIA Rally Star European Final is January 15.
The following countries will be represented in the FIA Rally Star European Final:
The FIA Rally Star European Final is closed to spectators, as strict COVID-19 protocol will be followed at the Estering.
Jérôme Roussel, FIA Rally Star project leader, said: “With just a few weeks to go until the very first FIA Rally Star Continental Final it’s really exciting to see all the planning and arrangements being finalised. With 82 drivers, including 15 women, representing 17 countries taking part from a list of more than 5500 potential candidates, it’s clear there is a lot of interest from young talents around Europe, especially with such a great top prize on offer. As well as discovering the first member of the FIA Rally Star Team, the European Final will serve as a blueprint for the other Continental Finals and encourage ASNs around the world to complete their national selections and be part of this tremendous initiative to unearth the WRC champions of the future.”