The session, based M-Sport’s headquarters in Cumbria, took place from 9-11 March and gave the young recruits the chance to sample the Ford Fiesta R2 and the Pirelli tyres they will use on six rounds of the world championship this season.
Miko-Ove Niinemae, a 17-year-old from Estonia who was one of the first drivers to sign up for the Academy, said: “The [Fiesta was the] best R2 car I’ve driven. I think my favourite thing is the handling. It’s steady on the road, not nervous.”
As well as getting the opportunity to drive the Fiesta R2, several classroom tutorials were held on subjects including professionalism, goal setting, media, nutrition and fitness.
Robert Reid, the 2001 world champion co-driver and director of ESP, the company responsible for running the workshop sessions, said: “Some of the WRC Academy drivers might have felt a bit like they were back at school for the day, but the smartest drivers who take all the advice on board and work with it will soon see the benefits.”
Dutch WRC Academy driver Timo van der Marel agreed: “I learned how important it was to identify weaknesses and make a plan to turn them into strengths.”
WRC Academy Principal Marc de Jong added: “In rallying experience is very important and these guys are at a really early stage of their career. Many are graduating from national championships and these are their first steps at WRC level. We want to help them prepare for the WRC Academy season and give them a good foundation to build their talent. That’s why this induction programme isn’t just about driving, but included many other aspects as well.”