M-Sport will continue as the supplier to the newly-renamed FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2013, it has been confirmed, with all crews again competing in identically-prepared Ford Fiesta R2s.
Currently known as the FIA WRC Academy Cup, the Junior WRC Championship is 'designed to be accessible and cost-effective', and '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'. Drivers under the age of 26 are eligible to take part in the Junior WRC Championship.
The 2013 FIA Junior WRC Championship will be contested over six European rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship, with drivers counting all scores towards the Championship title.
The Champion will be given the opportunity to contest a minimum of six events in the 2014 FIA WRC 2 Championship driving a Ford Fiesta R5.
“The Junior WRC Championship aims to be the most accessible and affordable first step on the FIA World Rally Championship ladder,” said FIA rally director, Jarmo Mahonen.
“We continue the model where we offer competition in connection with education, while giving all drivers exactly the same equipment to enable them to showcase their talent. We are delighted to continue our association with M-Sport which has an excellent track record with the WRC Academy.”
Meanwhile, as part of its commitment to 'strengthening the regional rally championships and implementing a global strategy for the sport', the FIA is also said to be 'investigating' the possibility of introducing a new structure for the Junior WRC from 2014 onwards.
“At that time, the intention would be to create a Junior Championship in all the FIA Regional Rally Championships for crews competing in FIA-specified R2 cars. Having taken this first step on the ladder, crews would then be eligible to contest the FIA Junior WRC, which would be reserved for drivers in FIA-specified R3 cars,” the FIA explained.