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WRC Rally Portugal

Inaugural FIA Rally Star Women’s winner crowned

Annia Cilloniz has won the inaugural FIA Rally Star Women’s Final to move a significant step closer to competing in the World Rally Championship next year.

Annia Cilloniz

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

Peruvian driver Cilloniz took the title after seeing off competition from Maja Hallen Fellenius (Sweden), Kristie Ellis (South Africa) and Pragathi Gowda (India) at the Maggiora Offroad Arena in Italy on Thursday.

The four finalists were put through their paces in the TN5 Cross Car, built and prepared by Hyundai WRC star Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation, on a 4.7 kilometre mixed-surface stage which consisted of three five-lap heats.

The stage performances, along with the results of physical and reflex tests, were carefully evaluated by the jury headed up by FIA Deputy President and 2001 WRC title-winning co-driver Robert Reid.

Cilloniz will now join fellow continental final winners Jose “Abito” Caparo (Peru), Max Smart (South Africa), Taylor Gill (Australia), Romet Jurgenson (Estonia) and Abdullah Al Tawqi (Oman) in the FIA Rally Star Training Season, which starts with a training camp in Sardinia, beginning from 24 May.

The finalists will then each contest six rallies in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 run by M-Sport Poland with the best four performers earning a fully-funded drive in the 2024 FIA Junior WRC.

The competition schedule begins with the gravel-based Rally San Marino from 16-17 June.

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 will secure a WRC2 campaign for 2026.

“The FIA Rally Star Finals made me proud of myself,” said Cilloniz. “It gave me the opportunity to believe in my dreams and to keep growing.

Annia Cilloniz

Annia Cilloniz

Photo by: FIA

“I know that it’s just the start of a new adventure with a lot of things to learn, but this is the best programme I’ve ever seen.

“I got a promise to keep, to be the best one for the FIA Rally Star programme and a big mission for the women. I want to make them on the top of the Motorsport world.”

Pernilla Solberg, FIA Rally Star jury member and wife of 2003 world rally champion Petter Solberg, added: “I think it's important to have a Final where we give the opportunity to girls all over the world to compete on equal terms with the boys, and to have the help and support that's needed to get them in a rally car.

“I've been really proud to be part of this project. It's been great and I'm so happy with the winner we picked today.”

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