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WRC launches female driver programme

The World Rally Championship is inviting aspiring female drivers to take part in a new initiative that will offer a fully-funded drive in next year’s Junior World Rally Championship.

The launch of the scheme, run under the championship’s Beyond Rally platform, aims to increase female participation in rallying’s top-flight.

In recent years women have enjoyed success in co-driving with Reeta Hamalainen and Enni Malkonen winning world titles in WRC2 and WRC3 respectively in 2022, but 1982 title runner-up Michele Mouton remains the last woman to win a round of the championship as a driver, 42 years ago.   

To help find the next star the WRC Promoter is inviting drivers aged 27 and under to apply to join a new programme.

The 15 most suited applicants will take part in an intensive training camp to be held at the M-Sport Poland headquarters in Krakow.

This camp will include a day of gravel and a day of tarmac testing in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 as well as simulator testing, pace-note and reconnaissance competence, PR training and an evaluation of mechanical knowledge.  

Michele Mouton – FIA Women Drivers Assessment Programme

Photo by: FIA

A jury of top-level WRC stakeholders will then select three participants who will move to the second step: competing at this October’s WRC Central European Rally in an M-Sport Poland-run Ford Fiesta Rally3.

Following this WRC event, the same jury will decide the winner of the ultimate prize: the supported 2025 Junior WRC programme, including testing.

“WRC has a storied history of female participation,” said Peter Thul, WRC Promoter senior director sport.

“Michele Mouton is one of the greatest motorsport legends, period, while in the past three years we have crowned female world champion co-drivers in WRC3 and WRC2.

“But it has been some time since we have had female drivers consistently competing at the top levels of our sport and we hope this programme will go some way in helping to bridge this gap.

“We have a long-term vision with this project and we will continually evaluate the process to ensure that increased female participation is lasting.

“We are focusing primarily in the initial stages of selection – including Central European Rally – on being on Tarmac, creating an easier transition for entrants with a background in karting and circuit racing.”

Burcu Cetinkaya, chair of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, added: “I applaud the WRC Promoter for the opportunities they are affording young up-and-coming female drivers. We see so many female co-drivers succeeding in the WRC and in the coming years, we want to see just as many female drivers enjoying the same successes.”

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