Organisers of the new FIA WRC Academy for young drivers have revealed further details of the scheme, including a six-round European-based calendar* for next year's inaugural season and the livery of the Academy cars.
The WRC Academy is a brand new feeder series to the World Rally Championship (WRC) run in partnership by motorsport's governing body, the FIA, and WRC promoter North One Sport.
Built on the foundation of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC), the Academy will provide an unrivalled opportunity for young drivers to develop their careers on rounds of the world championship in a cost effective way. The basic price of a season is set at 118,000 UK Pounds (approx 135,000 Euros) -- or about half the cost of a J-WRC campaign.
Adding to the financial incentive is a prize fund of 500,000 Euros for the series winner to spend on developing their WRC career in 2012.
On 24 October it was announced that all drivers will compete with identical Ford Fiesta R2s prepared by M-Sport and fitted with control tyres from Pirelli. Today, the livery of the Academy car has been revealed, as well as more detail about the series.
The Academy begins on the third round of the 2011 World Rally Championship, Vodafone Rally of Portugal (24-27 March). After that, it includes the WRC rounds in Italy (5-8 May), Finland (28-31 July), Germany (18-21 August), France (29 September -- 2 October) before concluding on Wales Rally GB (10-13 November).
Twenty-four places are available in the 2011 Academy, six of which have been awarded to the winners of the Pirelli Star Driver programme. To be eligible for the FIA WRC Academy a driver must be born on or after 1 January 1986. In addition, they must not have participated in more than seven WRC rallies as part of the J-WRC, P-WRC or S-WRC. There is no age limit for co-drivers.
Newly appointed president of the FIA's World Rally Championship Commission Jarmo Mahonen lent his support to the scheme. "We want to make the WRC accessible to young drivers from everywhere in the world and with the FIA WRC Academy we have a first step on the ladder for new drivers and a scheme with all the ingredients for success. It is a new concept for the WRC, but it has a solid foundation as it uses the best experiences from the Junior WRC and the Pirelli Star Driver scheme. It will be an excellent learning ground for all taking part and it will be available at a realistic budget."
North One Sport CEO Simon Long added: "The Academy gives young drivers a unique opportunity to experience the WRC on an equal footing -- with the same car, tyres and stages. The 'arrive and drive' formula keeps costs under control and the emphasis squarely on driver skill. It's the perfect showcase for the stars of tomorrow, and with a prize worth 500,000 Euros for the winner, there has never been a better incentive for youngsters to make the step up to the world stage."