The FIA Rally Star African Final at the Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria has begun with 29 drivers, including five females, assembling for a shakedown day at a venue located at the heart of motor sport in South Africa.
In warm conditions, the competitors acclimatised to the 900-metre mixed-surface course, which will be used for the first competitive action tomorrow morning (Saturday) and has been built especially for the third FIA Rally Star Continental Final following on from Finals in Europe and the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) earlier this year.
Eight countries are being represented in the FIA Rally Star Continental Final and the 29 drivers taking part have been placed into four groups (three groups of seven and one group of eight) ahead of Stage 1.
The 29 competitors that are aiming for a place in the FIA Rally Star Training Season in 2023, got their first feel behind the wheel of the TN5 Cross Car from Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation. However, the Pirelli-equipped machine, which is being used as the base car for the competition, was designed for novice drivers taking their first steps in motor sport.
The top two of each group will qualify for Sunday’s final day along with two high-performing drivers based on percentage timing. The third and fourth drivers of each group will have a second chance to earn their place in Sunday’s final, by participating in the Digital Challenge.
Whoever wins the FIA Rally Star African Final will have the honour of representing the region in the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season. In addition to six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, the Training Season package includes physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing. The aim is to equip the successful contestants with the attributes they need as they attempt to secure a drive in the FIA World Rally Championship in the future.
The winner will be announced at 18h30 local time on Sunday May 29 after all drivers have been interviewed by the Jury, headed by Robert Reid, the winner of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship for Co-Drivers and FIA Deputy President for Sport, and also including former rally driver Pernilla Solberg.
In the event that the winner is not female then the FIA Rally Star African Final’s top-performing female will go through to the FIA Rally Star Women’s Final due to take place in North America later this year.
Rodrigo Rocha, FIA Vice President for Sport – Africa: “The African Final aims to showcase the talent of African drivers that are hidden in this continent, this allows them to participate at a world-class event organized by the FIA. The main objective is to bring up the next generation of rally drivers and while the main discipline of this region is rallying, I’m sure that drivers will represent this continent in the future of the discipline.”
Anton Roux, President of Motorsport South Africa: “The FIA Rally Star program is fantastic, not only for South Africa but also for the African continent. It’s an affordable way to get involved in motorsport and to see if you have the talent and attributes to become a racing driver.”
Source : Fia