A NEW ERA FOR THE FIA JUNIOR WRC—
- After announcing at the start of the year that Citroën Racing was to become the exclusive supplier of rally cars for its Junior WRC championship, the FIA has just published the rally calendar and sporting regulations for the competition.
- The FIA Junior WRC will be contested over six rounds, with the opening round of the season held at Rally de Portugal (3-6 April).
- Driving Citroën DS3 R3s, the competitors will fight it out to try and add their name to the list of winners inaugurated by Sébastien Loeb, who won the title in 2001 in a Citroën Saxo Super 1600.
- The FIA Junior WRC champion will win a WRC2 programme for 2015 in a Citroën DS3 R5.
Since it was first introduced in 2001, the FIA Junior WRC has been seen as an essential stepping stone for young drivers looking to reach the top level of world rallying. The history of this category is closely linked with that of Citroën Racing, as no fewer than five drivers have won the title in the Brand’s customer racing products: Sébastien Loeb (2001), Dani Solà (2002), Dani Sordo (2005), Sébastien Ogier (2008) and Martin Prokop (2009).
After switching to a one-make format in 2011, the FIA Junior WRC is now about to enter a new era with Citroën Racing. One of the leading models in the “two-wheel drive” class, both in terms of performance and reliability, the Citroën DS3 R3 has been chosen to be used by all of the crews taking part in the championship.
In order to ensure the crews enjoy complete sporting fairness, a high quality of service and controlled costs, Citroën Racing has selected several teams that meet its specifications to take part in the championship. These operators will provide the drivers with a “turnkey” programme for a fixed price, including provision of the car, team personnel, spare parts, entry fees and administration, racing insurance, accommodation, etc. All the competitors will use identical Michelin tyres and FIA fuel, which are also included in the service provided by the teams.
From a sporting perspective, the FIA Junior WRC is open to drivers under 28 years old. The calendar is made up of six rallies (Portugal, Poland, Finland, Germany, France and Wales GB), at which crews will complete all of the stages. Points are awarded using the standard FIA scale, and all results count towards the final overall standings. Drivers are also entered in the WRC3 and may therefore also attempt to win this title.
Keen to make it easier for the most promising young drivers to graduate to top-level racing, Citroën Racing and its partners Total and Michelin will reward the champion with a six-round WRC2 programme in 2015 at the wheel of a Citroën DS3 R5. The future champion will therefore follow in the footsteps of Sébastien Chardonnet, winner of the 2013 Citroën Top Driver series, who is enjoying similar support this season.
In addition to the Drivers’ title and the Nations Trophy awarded by the FIA, Citroën Racing will be organising a Teams’ championship. To take part, each team must enter two cars; the points scored by both cars will count towards this competition. Citroën Racing will offer the winning Team the opportunity to run the DS3 R5 awarded to the FIA Junior WRC champion.
Marek Nawarecki, Customer Racing Manager at Citroën Racing: “We are delighted to have been chosen to supply cars to the FIA Junior WRC drivers. The Citroën DS3 R3 is an ideal car for promising young rally drivers. As we showed last year in the Citroën Top Driver series, its performance levels enable drivers to contest the WRC3 title. By taking part in all of the events, the drivers will acquire more experience whilst also enjoying a much higher media profile. In order to ensure there is genuine sporting fairness between the competitors, we selected teams that were capable of meeting the quality requirements of Citroën Racing. Regardless of the team they opt for, the drivers are guaranteed to be able to compete on equal terms.”
Jarmo Mahonen, FIA Rally Director: “It is our intention to establish this pyramid so that drivers wishing to pursue a professional career in our sport have a clear path, learning on all levels as they progress. Now, drivers can compete for a prestigious junior title in the European Championship in a smaller capacity car, at a very reasonable cost, before graduating to the slightly more powerful Citroën DS3 R3T in the Junior WRC. Here, in front of influential manufacturers, they have the chance to make their mark and with a drive in an R5 car for the winner, this really completes the logical path to the full WRC.”
2014 FIA JUNIOR WRC CALENDAR
3-6 April: Rally de Portugal
26-29 June: Rally Poland
31 July – 3 August: Rally Finland
21-24 August: Rallye Deutschland
2-5 October: Rallye de France-Alsace
13-16 November: Wales Rally GB