While Volkswagen, Citroën, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford get ready for the battle at the front of the FIA World Rally Championship at Rallye Monte-Carlo, there is another championship which will be getting under way in the same place, the 2015 FIA Junior World Rally Championship.
The series will see eleven driver and co-driver pairings take to seven rallies around the world as part of the WRC package in identical Citroën DS3 R3-Max‘s. Six of the seven rallies will count towards the championship, a choice the drivers will be left to make. With eleven entrants for the opening round, organisers expect more drivers to join the championship in Portugal. Participants to the series will also be eligible to the WRC3 series.
The Junior series has produced a number of world class drivers in the past including Sébastien Loeb (2001), Dani Solà (2002), Dani Sordo (2005), Sébastien Ogier (2008), Martin Prokop (2009) and most recently Stéphane Lefebvre who took the Junior championship title on both the world and European stages and for 2015 makes the move up to WRC2.
Christian Riedemann, Simone Tempestini and Kornel Lukacs all took part in the championship in 2014 and will once again be taking on the challenge to take the J-WRC title.
Newcomers to the championship include Yohan Rossal who is part of Citroën Racing’s driver development programme and already seen as a rising star of the future having won the FFSA’s “Rallye Jeunes” (Young Rally Drivers) plus the French Junior Championship and the Junior Citroën Racing Trophy in a DS3 R1.
British interest comes from Daniel McKenna who has also benefited from the driver development programme from the French manufacturer having taken the British Rally Championship in a DS3 R3.
Former Citroën Racing Trophy winners Quentin Gilbert and Alessandro Re make the move in to the championship while Terry Folb, Yohan Rossel’s rival in 2014 also joins the series moving from a DS3 R1 to a DS3 R3-MAX.
“The FIA Junior WRC lets us continue to compete in the World Championship in ideal conditions, with a fantastic car!” said Gilbert. “It’s a very interesting category with an FIA title and a WRC2 drive for the winner. I think we have a chance of winning this year. We are starting to rack up quite a bit of experience.
“Beginning the season at Monte-Carlo is exciting. It’s the most iconic rally and one of the trickiest. The conditions change all the time. You have to improvise quite a lot. The aim is to win the category, but above all I want to be well placed in terms of the championship. Big points will be required in order to be relaxed going into the upcoming rounds.”
Charlotte Dalmasso joins the world arena after several years in the French Championship while Ole Christian Veiby comes in from the Swedish Rallycross Championship.
“I’m very aware of what an opportunity this is for me!” said Dalmasso. “The World Championship is a new adventure for me. I’ll be experiencing everything for the first time at Monte-Carlo: the roads, the conditions and the DS 3 R3-MAX. I’ve never driven competitively on snow before. I’ll adopt a cautious approach to try and make it to the end. But if I get the chance to produce a good performance, then I’ll grab it!”
John Wartique also joins the series via an unusual path in to rallying via saloon cars, single-seaters and GP3.
“We have made some minor changes to the regulations to attract even more young drivers.” said Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “These new points mean that we already have a record number of entrants. At Monte-Carlo, eleven DS 3 R3-MAXs will be taking part. Many others will be added to this total at Rally de Portugal.”
Winners of the series will be awarded the change to compete the 2016 season in the WRC2 class in a DS3 R5.
2015 FIA Junior World Rally Championship Calender
|22-25 January||Rallye Monte-Carlo|
|21-24 May||Rally de Portugal|
|2-7 July||Rally Poland|
|30 July – 2 August||Rally Finland|
|1-4 October||Rallye de France|
|22-25 October||Rally de España|
|12-15 November||Wales GB Rally|