Gill secures landmark Rally Star victory in India

RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) regular Taylor Gill has won the 2022 FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final in India, securing a place in next year’s FIA Rally Star Training Season.

One of 40 drivers from seven different countries to take part in the regional rally selection program at the Madras International Circuit, Gill was deemed to be the best of the group having impressed on the final day of the program.

In winning the regional program, the New South Welshman will now represent the Asia Pacific region in the international FIA Rally Star Training Season, which will include six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3.

In addition to his six-rally deal in the WRC3 spec car, Gill will also receive a physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing to equip him with the skills needed for a career in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)

“It’s pretty cool,” Gill said post-event.

“Obviously everyone goes for it, but you don’t expect to get it, so I’m over the moon.

“For sure, there was a lot of pressure, especially to go out and do another run today (Wednesday), I couldn’t make any mistakes, that’s what I tried to do, so I’m super happy.”

Following on from the opening two days of the competition, the talent pool was cut from 40 drivers to 13, which included Gill and four other Australians in Ryan Williams, Aidan Peterson, Molly Spalding and Jaidyn Gluskie.

The final day saw finalists enduring gruelling physical and reaction tests, as well as driving tests behind the wheel of Pirelli-equipped TN5 Cross Cars driver from WRC star Thierry Neuville’s LifeLive organisation.

Featuring a mix of gravel and asphalt sections, the three and half kilometre course was significantly faster than the two previous days’ layouts, with Gill one of the fastest.

The final day of testing wrapped up with an interview with the five-person jury consisting of Andrew Wheatley, Maciej Woda, Pernilla Solberg, David Terrien and Guy Botterill – all of whom eventually judged Gill as the winner.

Gill will now join fellow regional winners, Abdullah Al Tawqi of Oman (MENA), European Romet Jürgenson (Europe) and South African Max Smart (Africa) in the Training Season, with the North and South America regional finals to occur early in 2023.

All six finalists and the winner of the female final will form part of the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season, with the four best performing drivers to win an FIA Junior WRC Championship drive in 2024 – the first step on the ladder to the top-level, hybrid-based Rally1 category.

Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca praised Gill for his triumph.

“On behalf of everyone at Motorsport Australia, we congratulate Taylor for winning this challenging program, which comes with an amazing opportunity to climb the rally development pathway,” Arocca said.

“We also wish to acknowledge and thank the five other Australians who did a fantastic job in being selected for the program and their performances in India – four of which joined Taylor in the final.

“To have Taylor and his fellow Aussies  do well in this competition, in addition to the six Australians making it to the top six at last month’s Ferrari Driver Academy highlights the positive development opportunities our future stars are able to access here in Australia.

“It’s very promising to see so many young Australians do well on the international stage..

“We wish Taylor all the best with his campaign in the FIA Rally Star Training Season and look forward to seeing him continue his development as a rally driver in the ARC and beyond.”

More details on the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season will be released in the coming months.