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Aussie pairing wins Rally3 class as FIA Rally Star campaign begins

World Rally Championship hopefuls Taylor Gill and Daniel Brkic started the FIA Rally Star campaign in style by winning the Rally3 class at Rally San Marino.

Taylor Gill, Daniel Brki, Ford Fiesta R3

Last weekend's gravel rally marked the competitive start of the FIA’s new global talent search initiative that aims to unearth future WRC stars.

Six pairings selected from regional finals held across the world will tackle six European rallies this year behind the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3 car. The best four crews at the end of the six rallies will receive a fully funded two-year programme in the Junior WRC beginning in 2024. If one of the finalists wins the JWRC title, they will earn a coveted WRC2 campaign for 2026.

Gill and co-driver Brkic, who have previously competed in the Australian Rally Championship and have since moved to Finland, emerged as the best of the six FIA Rally Star crews. Gill impressed to finish the rally 10th overall, winning the Rally3 class outright.

“My first rally in Europe was a big learning curve and it was quite a challenge to do three passes of the same stage because the surface was changing on each run,” said Gill.

“Everyone in the team was super-supportive of each other and it was a relief to get to the finish with no major problems.

“The Fiesta Rally3 was really cool to drive, with a base set-up that’s easy to get into and it handled both the smooth and rough terrain really well.

“I had a ball, to be honest, but now we’ll be learning on the run during the next event because I’ve never done a Tarmac rally before.”

Winners of the European final, Romet Jurgenson and Siim Oja were Gill’s nearest rivals in the early stages of the rally, before Estonian Jurgenson clouted a hidden rock in stage six. Rear suspension damage put them out of the rally.

Taylor Gill, Daniel Brki, Ford Fiesta R3

Taylor Gill, Daniel Brki, Ford Fiesta R3

Photo by: Uros Modlic

Peru’s Annia Cilloniz also joined the list of retirements after an eventful rally that included a technical issue on the first test, two half-spins on stage three, before damage to a front wheel from hitting a rock ended the 24-year-old’s hopes.

Compatriot Jose Abito Caparo and South African’s Max Smart had never competed in a rally before the weekend, but both managed to reach the finish in 20th and 36th respectively.

Caparo, a multiple-karting champion, was hampered by a turbo issue on stage two, while former motocross rider Smart managed to recover from a roll in shakedown and a spin in the second stage.

Middle-East finalist Abdullah Al-Tawqi ran as high as third in the Rally3 class but a misinterpreted pacenote cost the Oman driver a chance to finish.

The FIA Rally Star campaign heads to Rallye Weiz in Austria next month (13-15 July), where the crews will tackle the first of two asphalt events.

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