16 Indians qualify for FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final round in Chennai
In all, 16 Indians will participate in the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final which will be held over three days here from Monday, at the Madras International Circuit.
The home contingent includes two wild cards in Pragathi Gowda and Tarushi Vikram, besides those who made it via Slalom and Digital qualifiers held in various Indian cities recently.
The three-day programme, presided over by a four-member Jury, is designed to identify one champion from 50 competitors, including seven females, who have qualified for the final from nine countries of the Asia-Pacific region — Australia, China, Hong Kong S.A.R, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Sri Lanka — after qualifying stages run by the participating National Sporting Authorities (ASNs).
The winners will be announced on Wednesday (Oct 12), after all, drivers have been interviewed by the Jury. The FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final is closed to spectators.
The 50 competitors will share two identical TN5 Cross Cars. After two days of the elimination process, 12 will be short-listed for the final runs over 1,900 metres on the last day. The jury will take into account these and performances in earlier stages and how they perform during an interview. The results of a physical assessment, taking place during Stage 3 and made up of a running session, and a reflex test will also be considered in deciding the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final winner.
The jury comprises FIA Rally Director Andrew Wheatley (Chairman), Pernilla Solberg, Maciej Woda, and Guy Botterill (Driver Advisor).
The Asia-Pacific winner will join the other continental finals champions. South and North America will host continental finals in the upcoming months, with the two winners of these events joining the selection of drivers for the first FIA Rally Star Training Season in 2023. The last spot in the FIA Rally Star Training Season will go to the winner of the Women’s Final, which is due to take place early next year.
The winner of the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final will be representing the region in the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season. Besides six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally, the Training Season package includes physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing. The aim is to equip the successful contestants with the attributes they need as they attempt to secure a drive in the FIA World Rally Championship in the future.
At the end of 2023, the best four FIA Rally Star Team members are rewarded with a season in the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024. For 2025, three drivers go forward into a second Junior WRC season. And if one of the FIA Rally Star team members wins the title, they secure a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car for 2026 with a Rally1 drive as their next target.
Taking into consideration the Training Season in 2023, plus two years in the Junior WRC, that essentially means three seasons of rallying free of charge for three drivers. Furthermore, all FIA Rally Star Team members will benefit considerably in terms of the experience and skills gained in 2023, plus the opportunity to showcase their ability to media outlets and potential sponsors and partners, rally teams and car manufacturers.
The Indian participants are:
Slalom qualifiers: Jahaan Singh Gill (Chandigarh), Nikita Takkale (Pune), Harkrishan Wadia (Chandigarh), Jasmehar Singh Jubbal (Faridabad), Nikhil Jayachandra Reddy (Bengaluru) and Saujatya Kole (Kolkata).
Digital qualifiers: Rutuparna Vivek (Bengaluru), Vedant Jouhari (Bengaluru), Jeremy Miller (Bengaluru), Arnav Pratap Singh (Delhi), Karthikay Agarwal (Delhi), Paras Oberoi (Delhi), Ajay Shankar (Chennai) and Aravind Sukumar.
Wild card: Pragathi Gowda (Bengaluru) and Tarushi Vikram (Chikkamagalur).