In addition M-Sport Limited, the organisation behind Ford’s WRC attack, has been appointed by the FIA to promote the series in addition to its existing car supplier and preparation roles.
The WRC Academy, established in 2011, is the first step on the ladder for aspiring young rally drivers wishing to showcase their talent on the world stage, and this year offers the eventual champion the chance to select how best to develop their career in the WRC.
In consultation with the FIA and M-Sport - who will provide expert advice and guidance - the winning driver will be given the opportunity to contest all rounds of the 2013 WRC in a Fiesta R2, with a recce car provided on long haul events. Or, alternatively, the driver can decide to step up to a Fiesta S2000 to contest five rounds of the series 12 months from now.
Designed to be accessible and cost-effective with the basic cost of participation set at £119,500, competitors registering for the FIA WRC Academy Cup will be supplied with identical Fiesta R2s prepared and maintained by M-Sport’s central European base in Krakow, Poland.
To further encourage equal competition and showcase the ability of each individual competitor, every Fiesta will once again be fitted with control tyres from Italian firm Pirelli.
As well as learning their craft on the stages, competitors will continue to take part in a comprehensive training and tuition programme to maximise their potential both in and out of the car.
The 2012 WRC Academy Cup will be contested over six rounds of the WRC starting on Vodafone Rally de Portugal at the end of March with additional gravel events in Greece and Finland before the asphalt rounds in Germany and France. The season concludes with the mixed-surface RallyRACC-Rally de Espana in November. Drivers will count their best five scores out of six.
In order to take part, drivers must be born on or after 14 November 1986 and have not competed as a priority driver on more than seven rounds of the WRC prior to 1 January 2012.
FIA WRC Manager Michele Mouton commented: “The 2011 WRC Academy Cup was a great success and provided incredibly close competition through to the final stage. We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with M-Sport, ensuring once again that this ‘arrive and drive’ formula continues at a set and affordable price for young competitors wishing to enter our sport. We have great confidence in Malcolm Wilson and his team to deliver yet another exciting series that is at the heart of nurturing future talent.”
Competitors wishing to register for the 2012 FIA WRC Academy Cup should contact Kate Rhodes at M-Sport by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +44 1900 828888.