After becoming the first individual to win the first leg of the FIA Rally Star Program’s Australian edition last month, Canberran Reilly Blyth has only now released how big this feat actually is.
Created late last year, the FIA Rally Star program is open to individuals around the world aged between 17 and 26 and has a top prize of a fully funded drive in the Junior FIA World Rally Championship.
It’s quite the journey to get to that point though, with contestants from around Australia having to complete multiple steps before they even get to compete for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunities of racing in the Junior WRC.
The first stage requires interested participants to have three attempts at the FIA Rally Star challenge on the WRC9 video game in a Motorsport Australia simulator, with the winner of each event going straight to the national finals next year.
With the first event taking place at the service park during last month’s Netier National Capital Rally in the nation’s capital, many youngsters including Blyth took part in the challenge, where they had 15 minutes for their three attempts.
At first, it was Peter Dylan who had the fastest time for the majority of the day, before Blyth showed up towards the end of the allocated time and blitzed the leader on his first run. Reilly eventually won the day with a time 15 seconds superior than Dylan.
The 21-year-old now goes straight to next year’s finals where he will battle it out for a spot in the Asia-Pacific Continental – the winner of that competition then going to the world stage where the WRC Junior seat becomes the next step.
Just how big the eventual prize is was a complete shock to Blyth and now with an opportunity to compete in a rally car on the line, Blyth is ready to continue pushing.
“I didn’t really grasp the immediate implications of my victory,” Blyth said
“Only when I went on the Rally Star website after I won and had more of an in-depth look at the prize did I get the full idea. I was quite surprised by the full extent of the Rally Star and I am really excited to go further.
“I was aware there was a sim challenge at the ARC Service Park which had something to do with an international prize and as I am quite invested in sim racing myself, I thought there was a chance to win another trophy, but I didn’t really know how big the program really was.
“I would love to get involved with rallying through this program. It’s a really good point for either a high level virtual racing or entry-level real rally, so I think I would be crazy not to try to go all the way and get that prize.
“Since winning, I have started to develop a training program and set aside goals so I can start giving myself every chance of going further and that includes a lot more time on the sim.
“I am genuinely really excited for it. It’s the largest virtual competition I have ever done in my life. To get any kind of potential opportunity to do completion outside of the simulation is awesome.
“A big thanks to the FIA and Motorsport Australia for organising this.”
There are still plenty of opportunities for Australians between 17 and 26 to get involved with the next round to be a Slalom Challenge at Sydney Motorsport Park on 20 May.
Future selections will be held at rally events around the country, with competitors also eligible to enter remotely – more details will follow in the coming weeks about how to show off your talents.
The remaining rounds
Thursday 20 May
Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
Saturday 22 May
Rally Service Park, Gympie QLD
Saturday 3 July
Rally Service Park, Launceston TAS
Saturday 7 August
Rally Service Park, Gippsland VIC
Friday 15 October
The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend SA
Saturday 16 October
Rally Service Park, Adelaide SA