WRC drive on the cards for APRC winner

Rally crews running in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) at the Coffs Coast Rally can now win a seat in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) thanks to a new initiative launched by the FIA and Hyundai Motorsport.

The FIA Rally Champions World Tour will be run over the next three years in a bid to identify talent from around the world by offering a drive in the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 at a WRC event to the winners of five FIA-sanctioned regional series.

With Australia hosting the 2021 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship final in Coffs Harbour in November, it adds an extra element to an already exciting event.

Supported by the FIA Innovation Fund, the initiative will see winners from the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, African Rally Championship, CODASUR Rally Championship, Middle East Rally Championship and NACAM Rally Championship awarded the WRC drive during the following season.

Starting from this year, the five winning crews in 2021, 2022 and 2023 will then get the opportunity to compete in the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 the following season with the program to conclude in 2024.

FIA Rally Director Yves Matton was excited with the program and the effect it would have on the sport’s diversity.

“I’m very pleased and proud to announce this initiative developed in partnership with Hyundai Motorsport, which will contribute to boost FIA regional rally championships and make them more attractive to competitors across all continents,” Matton said.

“Furthermore, by creating a pathway for competitors from non-European nationalities to the top of the rally pyramid, it will provide greater diversity in the FIA World Rally Championship and generate positive media coverage, thanks notably to the attendance of regional heroes at flagship events on their continent.

“The program, which promotes socially relevant aspects of Rally while making it a more accessible motor sport discipline worldwide, benefits from the support of the FIA Innovation Fund (FIF) and highlights the pledge given by the FIA’s Purpose Driven movement.”

The i20 N Rally2 which the five crews will be running in is a successor to the highly successful Hyundai i20 R5 and will be homologated later this year before debuting in the FIA WRC2 class at Ypres Rally Belgium.

With the FIA World Tour initiative aimed at promoting promising rallying talent from around the globe, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrew Johns was thrilled the team could be involved in the process.

“Helping to bring through the next generation of WRC champions is an important part of the work of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department,” Johns said.

“Joining forces with the FIA to announce the FIA Rally Champions World Tour broadens this approach to a truly global scope, and we can be very proud of the pivotal role of the Customer Racing department and the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 will play in the program.

“The FIA Rally Champions World Tour offers them an opportunity to show their skills on the global level, and thanks to our extensive testing and development, the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 is the perfect car for them to take the next step in their sporting careers.”

The Australian hosted final of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship takes place at the Coffs Coast Rally on 26-28 November.

The AGI Sport Adelaide Hills Rally will act as a APRC qualifier event in October.