MSA Academy backed rally co-driver Phil Hall has been selected to join the Toyota Gazoo Racing Challenge Programme where he will be Japanese driver Hiroki Arai’s co-driver in an R4 Subaru Impreza.
26-year-old Hall got the opportunity to join the programme after Toyota Gazoo Racing instructor Jarmo Lehtinen asked the MSA to suggest an English speaking co-driver to compete with Arai.
After MSA Performance Director Robert Reid consulted with one of the greatest WRC co-drivers – Nicky Grist – and Nottinghamshire based Hall’s surname was the one suggested.
The pair will now compete in the Finnish and Polish championship rallies with Hall already attending training camps to prepare himself for the events that lie ahead.
He said: “To be a part of this unique programme is a dream-come-true and a huge honour. The entire team have been so welcoming and it’s very inspiring to be working alongside such driven, talented, and experienced individuals. I’d like to thank the MSA Academy, Nicky Grist and Robert Reid for putting me forward and for their support and advice, which have been invaluable. Thank you also to the Toyota Gazoo Racing Challenge Programme and Tommi Makinen Racing.”
It was his skill and professionalism that led to Hall landing the opportunity with Lehtinen – who was Mikko Hirvonen’s co-driver – further adding: “We have been really impressed with Phil, especially with his attitude and passion to be a professional co-driver. He is really calm and clear in the car and it was great to see how quickly and easily he got along with Hiroki.”
That was something echoed by Reid as well: “British co-drivers have enjoyed much success on the international stage over the years and it’s great that MSA is able to help another one get this opportunity. When Jarmo called me we had just put together the MSA Academy Co-driver Programme with Nicky Grist and Paul Spooner, and Phil was an obvious choice to put forward from that squad. Having created the opening it was really then down to the way Phil approached the initial test and worked so well with Hiroki Arai that has led to him being part of this exciting development programme.”