Taking on the world

Two of South Africa’s talented young drivers will go up against thirty drivers from 26 different countries to compete for a place on the 2012 Young Driver Excellence Academy.

The FIA Institute has chosen the 30 drivers to take part in a 4-day shootout to decide who will make it onto the 2012 Young Driver Excellence Academy and South Africans, Andrea Bate (22) and Ashley Haigh-Smith are amongst those.

The shortlist is made up of young drivers from 26 different countries covering every continent, including competitors from Australia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Denmark, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, South Africa, UAE, UK and USA. The FIA refers to them as “some of the most talented young drivers in motor racing and rallying”. Only 18 will be chosen to join the Academy programme. To succeed the drivers will have to demonstr! ate their ability over four days of driving and non-driving assessments, with the selection announced at the end of the last day.

Once again, the selection process and training programme will be led by former Formula One driver and two-time Le Mans winner Alex Wurz and former World Rally Champion co-driver Robert Reid. At the Selection Event in Melk, Austria, they will lead exercises designed to evaluate fitness and performance, media techniques, teamwork and psychology.

Those that succeed will receive a place on the Academy’s fully-funded training programme, which aims to help drivers develop their motor sport careers, whilst increasing safety skills and actively promoting the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility on and off the track.

The South Africans:
Andrea Bate, 22, South Africa:
A relative late comer to motor sport, Andrea Bate did not begin racing until 2009. She started with South Africa’s Western Cape GTi Challenge and won Rookie o! f the Year honours, as well as finishing second in class C and fifth overall. From there it was a leap to the national Goldwagen Challenge, taking her to race circuits all across her home country, regularly competing in a field of 44 cars.

Ashley Haigh-Smith, 19, South Africa:
2011 has been an important season for Cape Town’s Ashley Haigh-Smith as he was able to step from his national rallying scene into WRC Academy competition. Having won the Class A5 South African National title in 2010, he moved up to Class A6, driving a Ford Fiesta R2, before joining the WRC Academy.

About the Academy:
The FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy is an initiative to develop young driver talent worldwide. It offers a fully-funded training programme that helps drivers develop their motor sport careers, whilst increasing safety skills and actively promoting the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility on and! off the track.

Launched in 2011, in its first year the Academy selected 12 drivers to take part, with at least one driver chosen from each of the following five areas: North, Central and South America; Western and Northern Europe; Central and Eastern Europe; Middle East and Africa; and Asia and Oceania. In 2012, at least three from each area will be chosen to make 18 drivers overall. The Academy is fully funded by the FIA Foundation, and managed by the FIA Institute, as part of the Motor Sport Safety Development Fund’s Young Driver Safety Programme.
– Credit: Motorsport South Africa.