Following a long off-season, the FIA Junior World Rally Championship returns for the start of the 2016 season at Rally de Portugal next month as eleven crews battle it out for the title and the overall prize for a WRC2 drive.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has once again teamed up with Citroën Racing, a partnership that is now in its third year, to provide a stepping stone for talented young rally drivers.
The championship itself can be traced back to 2001 when the future World Champion Sébastien Loeb would become the first winner of the series, since then the category has produced a number of top-level drivers including Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre, who are now with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT in WRC.
While Citroën is on an official break from the top level as it prepares for and all out assault on the 2017 season, Citroën Racing is continuing in its search for its next star driver.“Citroën Racing’s involvement in promotional formulas is based on one aim: find the next World Champion,” explained Marek Nawarecki, Customer Racing Manager at Citroën Racing.
All eleven crews will use the Citroën DS 3 R3-MAX, offering a completely level playing field for all competitors in the championship.
“We are honoured and pleased to have been chosen by the FIA to organise this championship again, which is the feeder category to the WRC. As in previous seasons, the DS 3 R3-MAX will be the model used by the crews. Its performances and reliability make it an ideal means of learning about the World Championship.” added Nawarecki,
Competitiors in the championship have to be below 28 years of age, with the average for this season being 24.4 years.
Front-runners for this season are expected to be Ole Christian Veiby, 2015 runner-up Quentin Gilbert, and Martin Koci (who finished third in 2014). Another returning name for this year is Terry Folb, he however will be racing with the newly formed Sébastien Loeb Racing JWRC team and with advise from rally legends Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena themselves, will be hoping to shine through this season and take the title.
The championship will take place over six European rounds with four on gravel (Portugal, Poland, Finland and Wales GB) and two on tarmac (Germany and France).
2016 FIA Junior WRC Entry list
Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjaermoen – Printsport
Vincent Dubert / Alexandre Coria – AFC Racing
Martin Koci / Lukas Kostka – Styllex Motorsport
Lukasz Pieniazek / Przemyslaw Mazur – LP Rally Team
Romain Martel / Vanessa Lemoine – Trajectoire Racing
Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi – Keane Motorsport
Mohamed Al Mutawaa / Stephen McAuley – Abu Dhabi Racing
Frédéric Hauswald / Maxime Vilmot – Trajectoire Racing
Thilo Himmel / Nico Swartz – Hans Weijs Motorsport
Terry Folb / Franck Le Floch – Sébastien Loeb Racing
Andrea Crugnola / Michele Ferrara – Delta Rally