Two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-drivers have been selected to participate in the FIA Rally Star initiative. Six drivers from across the world, all aged between 17 and 26, have earned their place on the programme following an intensive worldwide qualification process.
Full details of the programme will be revealed on the Thursday before Rally Italia Sardegna (June 1) during the FIA WRC pre-event press conference.
The drivers will begin their first steps on the World Rally Championship pyramid in mid-June when they contest the first of six national-level rallies all over Europe.
On offer is one of the biggest prizes in World rallying.
The finalists will each contest the six rallies in Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars, with the top-four performers earning a fully funded drive in the 2024 FIA Junior WRC.
For 2025, three of those drivers will go forward into a second Junior WRC season and if one of the FIA Rally Star members wins the title, they will secure a WRC2 campaign for 2026.
In a massive coup for the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, two Irish co-drivers have been selected to partner with two of the six drivers in the programme.
Ronan Comerford from County Armagh will co-drive for Abdullah Al Tawqi (Oman).
“It is a big step forward in my career and an exciting model to showcase my skills and abilities while always continuing to learn and develop” he said.
“Getting the opportunity to work on a six-round European National calendar with this FIA and M-Sport Poland programme is something that excites me and enhances my drive and determination.”
“I’ve been privileged to meet in person and generate a bond between the other drivers and co-drivers from various nationalities but also the FIA personnel and the coaching staff who bring a wealth of knowledge and I look forward to taking their input on board and working alongside them.”
Mayo’s Lorcan Moore has been selected to call the notes for Max Smart (South Africa).
“For sure drivers are starting with varied levels of experience but you couldn't learn in a better place. The resources the FIA are providing is unprecedented. Glad to be part of the programme.”
Both co-drivers praised the efforts of the backroom team within the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy who were instrumental in getting them to this point of their professional motorsport careers.
The two Irish navigators and their drivers, along with all other FIA Rally Star participants are currently in Sardina where they are undergoing an intensive training camp ahead of their first rally in June.
Training includes pacenote making and social media practices and all six crews will, this week, get the chance to test a Ford Fiesta Rally3 on both tarmac and gravel.
"The training camp will provide the first chance for the six participants to gather together and learn from all the experts who will be providing crucial knowledge and advice in a wide range of areas,” said FIA Rally Star Project Leader Jérôme Roussel.
The crews will also take part in the recce for Rally Sardegna and will remain on the Italian island for the duration of the event where they will gain experience in WRC-style press conferences and the inner workings of an international rally service park.
FIA Rally Star calendar
June 16-17 Rally San Marino (San Marino)
July 15-15 Rallye Weiz (Austria)
September 22-24 Rally Nova Gorica (Slovenia)
October 6-7 Rally Saaremaa (Estonia)
October 20-21 Rally RACC (Spain)
November 9-11 Lausitz Rally (Germany)
Text by: Sean Moriarty