Taylor Gill will compete in the Junior FIA World Rally Championship next year after being selected for the FIA Rally Star Program’s second year.
Gill was one of six young talents from around the world chosen to take part in the program’s training season this year before being selected for the second stage next year.
The New South Welshman will now contest the five-round junior component of the world’s premier rally competition next year, with the hopes of securing a third year in the program for 2025.
Joining the 20-year-old in the 2024 program will be Peruvian Jose Caparó, Estonian Romet Jürgenson and South African Max Smart.
“Being selected for the next stage is incredible,” Gill said.
“Honestly, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise because I feel like I had a strong campaign, but this moment is a reward for 12 years of hard work.
“Working my way up from karting to rallysprints to the Australian Rally Championship and now being selected for the Junior WRC – when I look at the timeline, it puts a big smile on my face. It’s just cool to know the hard work is paying off.
“I remember reading about the Junior WRC when I was 15-years-old and thinking about how it was a good stepping-stone into the WRC and how awesome it could be to compete in one day.
“Being from Australia, it is so out of touch and expensive to go rallying in Europe, the thought of now being on the Junior WRC start line in 2024 is an awesome feeling.
“I am so grateful for this FIA Rally Star program and the amazing opportunity – without it, I would have never been able to compete in Europe.”
Gill’s selection will certainly come as no surprise to those who followed the Rally Star training season this year, which saw the six competitors complete six rallies around Europe.
With fellow Australian Daniel Brkic calling the notes for Gill, the duo managed to go fastest in three different rallies, while also being the only driver of the six to finish every rally.
Their season began with victory in the San Marino Rally before finishing third in both the Austrian-based Rallye Wiez and the MAHLE Rally Nova Gorica in Slovenia. The New South Welshman then secured his second win of the season with a comfortable victory in Estonia’s Saaremaa Rally.
His most challenging round came during the RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada where he finished fourth of the six drivers, but he bounced back beautifully in the final round to win the International Lausitz Rally in Germany.
Gill ended the season with the equal most number of wins, with Jürgenson also taking out three victories.
“We were extremely pleased with the season. Some rallies were easier than others, but it all worked out in the end,” Gill added.
“The first result in San Marino was surprising in a sense as I didn’t expect to go to Europe and win straight away, especially against people we didn’t know – although it was the easiest rally we did because the roads are very similar to what we have in Australia.
“Then we had a difficult time with the tarmac rallies and how different it was to gravel. The tyres, general suspension and car set up certainly took some getting used to as well as the tough nature of these European tarmac rallies.”
“We struggled early on, but I was happy with how we came to grips to tarmac and by the second tarmac event, we were winning stages.
“We had a solid second half of year, but dealing with sandy surfaces and the ruts was the hardest thing for me and I struggled to adapt initially – in fact I am still adapting.
“I had never come across these deep ruts and particular conditions in Australia, and to the European guys, it was almost a second nature – so that is something that surprised me a lot.
“Looking back at it now, we have come a long way from that San Marino Rally and I am hopeful I can continue improving.”
As for his future, Gill had his sights set on 2024 with a busy off season in the works.
“I have never had to prepare for a WRC event so I am not too sure what to expect, but we will make sure we get a good mix of preparation,” Gill explained.
“With that said, I want to allow myself lots of time to get ready.
“This year, every single move we made was critiqued and we had to spend a lot of brain power to not put a foot wrong, as well as trying to impress the judges – so we will have a good rest and then start the process of moving back to Finland.
“I believe the FIA will run a bit of a mini training camp to get us acclimatised to driving on the snow. I imagine it can be quite foreign to someone who hasn’t done it before.
“Coming back to Australia and getting a good result in Canberra, where I was under no pressure, was a good confidence booster and while it is still a dream to win the ARC one day, I am fully focused on next year and getting through to 2025.”
The 2024 Junior WRC season begins with Rally Sweden in Umeå, Västerbotten on 15-18 February.
2024 FIA Junior WRC calendar
Round 1: Sweden Rally Sweden – 15-18 February
Round 2: Croatia Rally – 18-21 April
Round 3: Rally Italia Sardegna – 30 May-2 June
Round 4: Rally Finland – 1-4 August
Round 5: Rally Greece – 5-8 September