M-Sport is delighted at the FIA’s recent announcement to appoint the Cumbrian-based company in the role of promoter for the 2012 edition of the FIA WRC Academy. In a coherent approach to the new season, M-Sport will continue to offer dedicated technical support for the series whilst working alongside motorsport’s governing body to co-ordinate and promote the one-make series. With the deadline for entries in just three weeks time, M-Sport has confirmed that there will be 18 places available for the 2012 season.
Making its celebrated debut last year, the WRC Academy has become one of the most prestigious and exciting feeder series in recent years. In a nail-biting fight to the finish, the 2011 Cup Champion was decided over the final split of the very last stage – and M-Sport was privileged to play its part in the spectacle.
Supplying technical support throughout the Cup’s inaugural season, M-Sport will continue to provide the one-make series with identical Ford Fiesta R2s for 2012 – prepared and maintained at the company’s Central European base in Poland. Coupled, once again, with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy will continue to encourage competitive sportsmanship amongst equal competition.
Through its close commercial relationship with Ford, M-Sport has been able to provide a fleet of Fiesta R2 category rally cars. Since it was first homologated by the manufacturer in September 2009, the Fiesta R2 has provided an excellent entry category for participants in rallying.
As in 2011, the series remains accessible and affordable with the cost of participation set at £119,500 GBP. As well as perfecting their skills on the stage, competitors will participate in a comprehensive training and tuition programme – with advice from some of rallying’s most successful personalities – to maximise their potential both in and out of the cockpit.
In an extension to the 2011 series, this year will see the WRC Academy Champion further integrated into the Ford ‘family’ with an opportunity to advance their career within the WRC. In consultation with the FIA and M-Sport, the series victor will be given the opportunity to join the M-Sport team to contest a full 13-round WRC season in an M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta R2, complete with recce car for long-haul events. Alternatively, depending on their experience, the Champion may opt to contest five rounds of the 2013 season as part of the M-Sport team in the award-winning Ford Fiesta S2000.
2012 will see a more challenging calendar with five out of a total of six rounds counting towards competitors’ final Cup points. Following the series curtain-raiser in Portugal, the WRC Academy will travel to the notoriously challenging stages of the Acropolis Rally of Greece and the super-fast stages of Neste Oil Rally Finland, before moving onto asphalt rounds in Germany and France and the mixed-surface season finale at Rally de España.
With just over three weeks before entries close on 26 February, competitors are encouraged to register their interest with the WRC Academy Manager. Considering the success of the WRC Academy in its inaugural season, organisers are expecting a number of registrations over the coming week and competitors are encouraged to get their applications in as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
As they become available, regulations and registration documents will be posted at:
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE said:
“The success of the [FIA WRC] Academy in its inaugural year was phenomenal. We saw some fantastic young drivers come to the fore in what was a great spectacle that I have no doubt we’ll see replicated in 2012’s offering.
“As such, M-Sport is delighted to increase their involvement in the programme: continuing to supply technical support both on and off the stage as well as a committed team of co-ordinators to oversee the day-to-day running and promotion of the series.
“We [M-Sport] have a long and successful history of fostering young talent. Having launched the Fiesta SportTrophy programme in 2006, we have a dedicated team ready and eager to implement the [WRC] Academy’s ideals.
“This year’s prize is designed to integrate the winner into the M-Sport team and the 2012 Champion will have the opportunity to develop as a world-class driver alongside the likes of Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg, Ott Tänak and Ken Block.
“Personally, I cannot wait to see what the class of 2012 has to offer.”