18 Feb 08
Welcome to the 2008 FIA Junior World Rally Championship!
Take a selection of the world's most talented young rally drivers from a wide range of countries, let them drive seriously fast cars from leading car manufacturers in seven locations around the world and you have the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (FIA J-WRC).
The word 'Junior' doesn't mean the rallying is any less heart-stopping. Nor does it mean the drivers are any less talented. Far from it. They are quite simply 'young drivers in small cars'.
We've brought together drivers that are younger, hungrier and have more to prove - they want to be the WRC champions of the future and they're going to put their foot to the floor to get there.
Just like their heroes in the FIA World Rally Championship, these drivers - who are all 28 years old or younger - have to pit their wits against the toughest opponent of all, the clock. In each event, they have to compete for three days of intense rally driving on closed public roads and whoever finishes in the fastest time wins.
Millions of fans are blown-away by the Junior division of the WRC - both live and on TV - and a 26-minute highlight programme produced by WRC TV covers the action in all rounds. In 2007, 51 channels covering 218 territories televised the high-speed action and with rapidly expanding TV coverage, this figure is set to rise in 2008.
To win the FIA J-WRC, drivers need to combine raw talent and technical knowledge with a dogged determination to succeed in some of the toughest terrains on the planet. In addition, they need unflinching trust in their cool-headed co-drivers.
But even with all the natural skill in the world, success isn't guaranteed. With only eight drivers able to score points on each event, the pressure is huge.
To compete in a J-WRC event drivers must be born on or after 1st January 1979 - so they cannot be older than 28 at the start of the Championship year to compete. There is no age limit for co-drivers. Participation in six of the seven events is mandatory and missing a nominated event can warrant exclusion from the Championship.
A Team or Federation may place an entry allowing them to replace their representing drivers during the season.
Each organiser of a J-WRC round can nominate two local competitors to make a one-off entry into a J-WRC event as Guest Drivers. Guest Drivers are also eligible to score J-WRC points.
The competition number
The 2008 FIA Junior competitors are allocated start numbers between 31 and 58, which they will then keep for every Championship round. As entries can be made in the name of a driver or a team, the number belongs to the entrant and teams may wish to change drivers during the season. Guest drivers compete under car numbers 59 and 60.