Fri 06 Jan 2023

How a 10 Euro investment led one driver to Junior WRC

Tom Rensonnet's journey into the world of rallying began with just a single 10 Euro note. From a complete novice with no rally experience, he’s now one of the up-and-coming stars competing in this year's FIA Junior WRC.

The Belgian youngster launched his career when he won the RACB National Team Challenge at the end of 2019. It cost a meagre 10 Euros to enter and, prior to doing so, Rensonnet had never even driven a rally car before - his only previous experience was in circuit racing.

That triumph opened the door for Rensonnet, now 24, to try rallying. His prize - a season in a Peugeot 208 Rally4 - had to be curtailed due to Covid restrictions, but once those passed he quickly made a name for himself - earning the title of Belgian Junior Champion in 2022. 

This year - only his fourth in the sport - Rensonnet steps up to the world stage, driving an M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 in the one-make FIA Junior WRC series. 

Even with a test on snow before the season-opener at Rally Sweden (9 - 12 February), he admits it’s going to be a completely new challenge - especially as he has only ever driven front-wheel drive cars in asphalt rallies.

"I think I will be the least experienced out of all the Junior WRC drivers," Rensonnet said. "I have always competed on Tarmac but this year we will also drive on snow and gravel, so that's going to be more difficult for me."

RACB, which is Belgium’s motorsport federation, remains a key driving force behind Rensonnet’s development and it’s thanks to them that the graduation to Junior WRC has been made possible. Well aware he has a lot of training and preparation to do, Rensonnet is grateful for every ounce of help. 

“It’s amazing,” he smiled. “Before 2020, I had never driven a rally car, I'd only done some circuit racing on a track. I started from nothing and now, after three seasons, I am competing in the WRC. RACB is giving me this opportunity to drive in the Junior WRC and they are helping me a lot.”

Rensonnet has also called on valuable advice from some of Belgium’s, and the WRC’s, best. 

Hyundai star and compatriot Thierry Neuville, his idol, has been a fountain of knowledge, as has Neuville’s co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe.

"Thierry has already given me some tips," Rensonnet explained. "He is my idol and it's my dream to become like him one day. I have also spoken to Martijn and they have been giving me some advice for Sweden, Sardinia, and Greece. It's great to speak with these guys."

The opportunity to showcase his skills on the global stage is something Rensonnet's been dreaming of for many years. Long-term, though, his goals remain open. 

Whether it be in rallying, single-seaters, or even touring cars, the goal is simple: to make a lasting impact behind the wheel of a competition car.

"I like all motorsports," he confirmed. "Whether it's rallying, Formula 1, GT3 or anything - my dream is to become a professional driver. We will see how it goes."

The full 2023 FIA Junior WRC line-up will be revealed upon publication of the Rally Sweden entry list on Friday 13 January.

Image credits: Anaëlle Godfroid and Jerome Fiasse

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