Wednesday | 06 Jan 2021

Neuville backs search for future WRC stars

Thierry Neuville has taken on a key role in the hunt to unearth the WRC’s future superstars.

The Belgian’s LifeLive company will provide the CrossCars used to assess finalists in the FIA Rally Star programme which targets eager young drivers around the globe.

The single seater buggies feature a tubular spaceframe chassis and a motorcycle engine. They provide beginners with an insight into behind-the-wheel fundamentals and a platform to learn what it takes to be a successful rally driver.

Neuville founded LifeLive in 2016 to provide the chance for drivers to experience gravel road motorsport. His brother, Yannick, oversees day-to-day operations in Belgium.

“For a long time now, I have been determined to help promote and grow XC (CrossCar) racing as a discipline to help spot future rally drivers,” said the Hyundai Motorsport pilot.

“There are several core elements of XC driving that overlap with driving any rally car and it is great to see FIA Rally Star embracing this and using it as a platform to assess the drivers in the Continental and Women’s finals.

“I am looking forward to seeing many drivers and talent scouts discover this discipline and see it grow as a perfect and affordable test bed for emerging young talents around the world.”

Neuville is a strong advocate of talent search programmes which have been a vital launch pad to the top for the likes of Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak, as well as himself.

The Rally Star competition began at the start of this year is open to drivers aged between 17 and 26. National motorsport authorities around the world will host a selection process using either WRC 9, the game of the FIA World Rally Championship, or motorkhana, a discipline designed to test candidates’ handling skills in a road car.

Each country’s top nominees will go forward to continental finals in Europe, North America, South America, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North Africa and Africa during the second half of the year, during which they will compete against the clock in LifeLive’s CrossCars.

Following the continental finals, the six best female drivers will compete in a women’s final.

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The seven winners will receive a year of training and test sessions as well as six rallies in a Rally3 car. The top four, including at least one female, will graduate to two seasons in the FIA Junior WRC. Winning the Junior title will net a full season in WRC3 in a Rally2 car.

FIA rally director Yves Matton said LifeLive shared the FIA’s goals for Rally Star. “They immediately demonstrated their commitment to young drivers and desire to be part of this global search for the next generation of rally drivers,” he added.