Tue 01 Feb 2022

Jurgenson wins Rally Star European final

You won’t have heard of him just yet, but remember this name: Romet Jürgenson.

The Estonian youngster became the first driver to ink his name in a six-rally training programme designed to uncover a future world champion after winning the FIA Rally Star talent scheme’s European final at the weekend.

Jürgenson moves forward to a training season in 2023 at the wheel of M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Rally3. He will also benefit from physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing as he chases a seat in the 2024 FIA Junior WRC.

The 22-year-old impressed a star-studded jury at Germany’s Estering rallycross track which included the FIA’s deputy president for sport and former world champion co-driver Robert Reid, Hyundai Motorsport WRC star Thierry Neuville and M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson.

“I am so proud to receive this award, I am honestly speechless,” admitted Jürgenson. “The whole experience has been great. To experience the pressure of a competition like this and come out with some success is good training for my future career.”

The women’s award was shared by Sweden’s Maja Hallén Fellenius and Britain’s Katie Milner, daughter of former British rally champion, Jonny. Both progress to the women’s world final in the United States later this year.

Almost 90 competitors aged from 17 to 26 qualified for the European final via digital or slalom challenges in their home countries. Others made their way through by excelling in online challenges on WRC 9, the official game of the FIA World Rally Championship.

They tackled three days of timed special stages in cross cars from Neuville’s LifeLive organisation, a digital challenge, reflex and skills tests and a jury interview.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I went through a similar selection programme in Belgium and it changed my life. It was not an easy selection as there were a number of talented drivers here,” said Neuville.

“Of course, speed is important but it’s not all about speed, it’s also about car control, about your approach and your motivation. We were looking for a rough diamond which you can form later.”

The European leg was the first of six continental finals to decide drivers progressing to the 2023 training season. The seventh member will come from the women’s final.

At the end of 2023, the best four earn a drive in the 2024 Junior WRC, with the top three going forward to a second campaign the following year. If one of the drivers wins the junior crown, the reward is a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car in 2026.

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