A BIG injection of young driving talent is set to bring extra excitement to the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, including Rally Australia next September.
The three leading teams, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT, Ford-mounted Qatar M-Sport WRT and the highly-anticipated Volkswagen Motorsport, all have included young drivers alongside experienced seniors for their 2013 campaigns starting at Rallye Monte-Carlo on 17 January.
With fresh driver line-ups, a new team from Volkswagen, a yet-to-be announced program for MINI, an expected late-season appearance by a new contender from Hyundai and a new championship promoter in Red Bull Media and Sportsman Media, the 2013 WRC is shaping to be among the best in recent memory.
Rally Australia, round 10 of the championship, will be staged on the New South Wales Coffs Coast on 12-15 September.
Preparations are well under way for a major motorsports festival at Rally Australia, featuring up to 150 competing cars and new attractions for spectators.
With the 2013 season just a month away, the final key signings of fast young stars for outright WRC contention were announced last weekend, with 22-year-old Russian Evgeny Novikov, 22, and Belgian Thierry Neuville, 24, joining Qatar M-Sport to drive the Ford Fiesta RS WRC car.
They will partner Norway’s Mads Ostberg, already a WRC round winner at 25, following the departure of the experienced Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg from the past season’s Ford factory team.
Finnish ace Latvala, 27, moves to Volkswagen Motorsport, where he will drive a Polo R WRC alongside Sebastien Ogier, 29, from France. From late March, 23-year-old Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen also will join the team.
At Citroen, 29-year-old Frenchman Dani Sordo will shoulder the responsibility of representing the eight-time champion team alongside Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen, 32, both in the successful DS3 WRC.
The team’s legendary nine-time driver champion Sebastien Loeb, 38, will contest only four rounds of the 13 championship rounds next season and Abu Dhabi’s Khalid Al-Qassimi, 40, will do eight rounds.
Another WRC stalwart, Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, 42, will drive seven rounds for M-Sport.
Outside this elite group of drivers, many other young talents will be hoping for berths in the outright WRC category or the new WRC2, WRC3 and Junior categories.
They include the 2012 Super 2000 World Champion Craig Breen, 22, of Ireland, and Australians Brendan Reeves and Molly Taylor, both 24.
Reeves, Taylor and their experienced countryman Chris Atkinson all performed impressively in limited WRC appearances this year and will be looking to continue their progress, possibly including starts on their home event.
The legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo, first run in 1911, will kick off a series regarded alongside Formula 1 as one of the most popular and prestigious in global motorsport.
It is also uniquely relevant to everyday motoring, using modified versions of recognisable popular production cars, often on closed public roads, over events lasting several days and several hundred kilometres in the widdest possible variety of weather and surface conditions.
Volkswagen says the WRC offers it “the opportunity to prove its sporty qualities in an environment in which our cars have always been at home: on real streets”.
Added Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the manufacturer’s Board of Management: “In doing so, we are not using extraordinary prototypes, but a Polo based on the standard production car. This proximity to the product and customer played an important role in our decision to commit to this form of global motorsport.”
About Rally Australia
Rally Australia on 12-15 September 2013 will be the 22nd WRC event in Australia and the third since it moved to New South Wales from Western Australia. The 2011 rally attracted more than 13,000 individual visitors to the Coffs Coast, generating more than 64,000 bed nights and a net economic impact of $14.8 million, according to Destination NSW. The shire and forestry roads of the Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Bellingen and Clarence Valley local government areas provide a true challenge for the WRC drivers against a magnificent backdrop of subtropical coastal and hinterland scenery.
About the FIA World Rally Championship
The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is widely regarded as the world’s most challenging motorsport championship. Rounds in 13 countries pit drivers in highly-modified versions of popular production cars over a series of timed “special stages” on surfaces varying from gravel and asphalt to snow and ice. Started in 1973, the WRC over the years has been a battleground for makes including Toyota, Subaru, Ford, Citroen, Fiat, Audi, Mitsubishi, Mini and Peugeot. Volkswagen and Hyundai are poised to join the series, which attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators in some countries and a huge global television audience. The WRC is regulated and controlled by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for motorsport worldwide.
For further information, please contact:
Ben Rainsford Chris Nixon
Chairman Media Manager
Rally Australia M. +61 418 759 417
M. +61 419 816 227 E. [email protected]