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FIA crowns first winners of new WRC rally talent search

Romet Jurgenson has won a prize season drive in an M-Sport Rally3 Ford Fiesta after being declared the first winner of the FIA Rally Star talent search competition.

Romet Jurgenson, Katie Milner, Maja Hallén Fellenius

The new FIA initiative open to 17-26 year-old aspiring rally drivers aims to provide a pathway for future talent onto the World Rally Championship pyramid.

Estonia’s Jurgenson was declared the winner of the European final, featuring 89 finalists from 22 nations, held at Germany’s Estering rallycross circuit last weekend.

The 22-year-old came through a series of challenges, including a physical driving element featuring Cross Cars, a digital competition, reflex and skills tests and a formal interview and assessment with the FIA Rally Star Jury, chaired by Robert Reid, the FIA Deputy President.

The jury also included Hyundai factory WRC driver Thierry Neuville, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson, Pernilla Solberg, a class-winning rally driver and wife of 2003 FIA WRC champion Petter Solberg, and Pirelli rally boss Terenzio Testoni.

Jurgenson, who earned his place in the final after winning one of the initiatives esports challenges, has now won a drive in an M-Sport Rally3 Fiesta in six yet to be named rallies in 2023. He will be joined by five other regional final winners from across the world and the winner of the women’s competition. Sweden’s Patrik Hallberg was selected as the reserve driver.

At the end of 2023, the best four members earn a season in the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024. For 2025, three drivers go forward into a second Junior WRC season and if one of the FIA Rally Star Team members wins the title, they secure a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car for 2026.

“I am so proud to receive this award, I am honestly speechless,” said Jurgenson.

“The whole experience has been great. I have to thank the FIA and all the people who have put this programme together.

“To experience the pressure of a competition like this and come out with some success is good training for my future career.”

FIA Rally Star cross car

FIA Rally Star cross car

Photo by: FIA

The women’s award was shared between Sweden’s Maja Hallén Fellenius and McLaren British GT development driver Katie Milner from Great Britain. They will both progress to the Women’s World Final in the United States later this year.

“It’s unreal, I have no words it’s crazy. I’ve been in motor sport for nine years now, racing in go-karts and single-seaters, but mostly track racing with tarmac and more grip,” said Fellenius.

“My learning curve has been huge during these three days. I participated in the first edition of the FIA Girls on Track, so I feel like I had a good head start for competitions like this. I’m really looking forward to the final and going to North America.”

Milner added: “I came here with no expectations, entered with a wild card, it’s a different style of driving for me as well.

“I really enjoyed the journey so far, all the training, it has been the first time on a rallycross track changing from gravel to tarmac, learning to be under pressure, I loved it.

“I have been racing in British GT, but I came to a crossroads. This opportunity came up, so I said to myself ‘why not give it a go and see what happens?’. I need to knuckle down now, focus on training for the female final in America and fingers crossed.”

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