Exciting Junior WRC Calendar revealed for 2023
The 2023 FIA Junior WRC Championship calendar has been officially approved and will see the FIA Junior WRC embark upon an exciting adventure across three different surfaces. The calendar has been designed to provide the next generation of FIA World Rally Championship drivers with essential experience on all surfaces represented on the WRC calendar: snow, ice, Tarmac and a variety of gravel surfaces.
The Junior WRC’s unrivalled prize package, which is regarded as ‘the biggest prize package in rallying’, remains for the 2023 FIA Junior WRC Champion which will see them win four fully-funded Ford Fiesta Rally2 prize drives with M-Sport, including a pre-event test and a full allocation of Pirelli tyres. The prize is integral to allowing the best of the next generation showcase their talent on the international stage with the FIA Junior WRC acting as an exciting talent selection process.
The calendar provides a thorough test to see which driver will have what it takes to seize championship glory and join the likes of WRC superstars Sébastien Loeb, Dani Sordo, Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans, Craig Breen and Pierre-Louis Loubet.
1. Rally Sweden 09 – 12 February
The rally has regularly played host to the launch of the Junior WRC since 2018, making it one of the most hotly anticipated rounds of the season. The rally moved further north in 2022, basing itself out of the town of Umeå, and featured a jaw-dropping fight for victory between Jon Armstrong and Lauri Joona. The rally is comprised of picturesque wintery lakeside roads and is the only round of the series which takes place purely on snow. But make no mistake: snow and ice doesn’t mean the drivers will be tiptoeing around. With studded Pirelli Sottozero Ice tyres fitted to every M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, it’s one of the fastest rallies of the year for the Junior WRC crews.
2. Rally Croatia 20 – 23 April
Croatia Rally was a brand-new all-asphalt addition to the WRC in 2021and hosted the Junior WRC’s curtain-raiser in that year. The rally quickly became a favourite for all involved, offering stage characteristics never before seen in the World Rally Championship and providing crews with a tough and testing challenge. Croatia’s stages feature characteristic that are commonly found on fast gravel events such as fast corners sweeping over treacherous blind crests, requiring supreme confidence and total commitment. Due to the high speeds and technical nature, crews must analyse every detail of their pace notes.
3 Rally Italia Sardegna 01 – 04 June
Rally Italia Sardegna makes its return to the FIA Junior WRC after a three-year hiatus. The home event of longstanding Junior WRC partner Pirelli, Italy [TM1] represents the first of three gravel events in 2023. Crews will face fast but narrow stages with loose gravel which is a continuously developing surface as the soft and sandy top layer covers hard and immovable bedrock. Crews can experience sweltering heat inside the Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars, with no air conditioning and temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees centigrade.
4 Rally Estonia 20 – 23 July
Rally Estonia made its WRC debut in 2020 and has been a firm and universal favourite since with WRC fans and teams alike. The Junior WRC has witnessed some epic battles in the three editions of the event with history being made in 2022 as Robert Virves claimed 17 stage wins on the rally, breaking Sebastien Ogier’s 14-year record of 16. Rally Estonia will be a very different gravel round compared to Italy, and tests crews further by calling upon a completely unique skillset to master Estonia’s sweeping corners and jumps.
5 EKO Acropolis Rally Greece 07 – 10 September
EKO Acropolis Rally Greece made its return to the Junior WRC in 2022 for the double points-paying season finale. The rally offered many challenges and obstacles for crews to overcome, including surviving a mammoth 100km day of rallying on Friday without a midday service. Temperatures tested every driver’s fitness and concentration levels with ambient air temperatures exceeding 30 degrees centigrade. Despite its rough and punishing nature, the fight for the championship raged between Jon Armstrong and Robert Virves, going to the wire on the last stage of the rally as Virves became the Junior WRC’s first-ever Estonian champion.
Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager, said:
“Junior WRC prides itself on delivering an evenly spaced, balanced calendar that represents the core DNA of the FIA World Rally Championship. All five of the events we are going to offer something different and because of that are fan favourites. I think each round will require a different approach and skillset which is very important for us to rigorously test all of our drivers and find out who really has got what it takes to be a future star of the WRC. The objective is for our 2023 crews to also experience as many different elements of the WRC as possible, giving them the perfect introduction to the world stage whilst whetting their appetites for future outings and successes. The exciting calendar is complemented as the perfect introduction to WRC competition with crews competing in the four-wheel drive Fiesta Rally3, which is the car of choice for starting out in the WRC.”