The FIA WRC Academy Cup will continue in 2012, it was announced this week, with M-Sport again appointed as the supplier.
The WRC Academy is the first step on the ladder for aspiring young rally drivers wishing to showcase their talent on the world stage, and last year it was brought in as a replacement for the JWRC.
This year offers the season winner the chance to select how best to develop their career in the WRC. In consultation with the FIA and M-Sport - who will provide expert advice and guidance - the winning driver will be given the opportunity to contest all rounds of the 2013 WRC in a Fiesta R2, with a recce car provided on long haul events. Or, alternatively, the driver can decide to contest five rounds of the 2013 series, stepping up in to a Fiesta S2000 car.
“The 2011 WRC Academy Cup was a great success and provided incredibly close competition through to the final stage,” said FIA WRC Manager Michele Mouton. “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with M-Sport, ensuring once again that this 'arrive and drive' formula continues at a set and affordable price for young competitors wishing to enter our sport.
“We have great confidence in Malcolm Wilson and his team to deliver yet another exciting series that is at the heart of nurturing future talent.”
Designed to be accessible and cost-effective with the basic cost of participation set at £119,500, competitors registering for the WRC Academy Cup will be supplied with identical Ford Fiesta R2s prepared and maintained by M-Sport's central European base in Poland.
To further encourage equal competition and showcase the ability of each individual competitor, every Fiesta will once again be fitted with control tyres from Pirelli.
As well as learning their craft on the stages, competitors will continue to take part in a comprehensive training and tuition programme to maximise their potential both in and out of the cockpit.
The 2012 WRC Academy Cup will be contested over six rounds of the World Rally Championship, with drivers counting their best five scores towards the Cup.
The series kicks off with three gravel rounds in Portugal, Greece and Finland before heading to the challenging asphalt in Germany and France. The season-finale takes the crews to Salou in Spain.
To be eligible to take part, drivers must be born on or after 14 November 1986 and have not competed as a priority driver on more than seven rounds of the WRC prior to 1 January 2012.