Pragathi Gowda wins FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Women's Final
Australian Taylor Gill tops among men
Chennai, October 12: Australia’s 19-year old Taylor Gill, a mechanic by profession, and Pragathi Gowda from India were declared winners of the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final which concluded at the Madras International Circuit, here on Wednesday.
A four-member Jury, after considering the timesheets and then interviewing the finalists, declared Gill, who hails from New Castle, as the overall winner of the Final while 25-year old Pragathi won in the women’s category. She will represent the Asia-Pacific region in the women’s World Finals in Peru in January 2023.
The qualifiers for Stage-3 today were put through two phases of timed runs. At the end of the first phase, the list was narrowed down to six contenders based on their times. The top six were then given another run to decide the quickest. The six drivers were then interviewed by the four-member jury who then announced the winner, taking into consideration the performances, fitness and driving skills.
Pragathi, a post-graduate in finance, who juggles between profession and motorsport, said: “I am super happy. I will do my best to make my country proud. Winning the Rally Star is the biggest recognition I have received and I have worked very hard for it. I would like to tell all the women out there to not lose hope. This is the happiest moment in my life.
“On the first two days, it was more of a tarmac run, but today, it was more gravel which I am very comfortable with and so was very confident. I just stuck to my basics and did what I had to do. I was not happy with my first run today, but I completed the second with ease.”
Taylor Gill, struggling to contain his emotions, said: “I don’t have the words to describe my feelings now. Coming into the Final here, I just wanted to enjoy myself and put everything together. A couple of weeks ago, I did one day in a cross car in Australia, but the Rally Star cars here are vastly different. Right now, I am over the moon.”
The Asia-Pacific winner will join the other continental finals champions. Two winners of these events join the selection of drivers for the first FIA Rally Star Training Season in 2023. The last spot in the FIA Rally Star Training Season will go to the winner of the Women’s Final, which is due to take place in Peru.
The winner of the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final will be representing the region in the 2023 FIA Rally Star Training Season. Besides six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3, the Training Season package includes physical and intellectual assessment, driver coaching and testing. The aim is to equip the successful contestants with the attributes they need as they attempt to secure a drive in the FIA World Rally Championship in the future.
At the end of 2023, the best four FIA Rally Star Team members are rewarded with a season in the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024. For 2025, three drivers go forward into a second Junior WRC season. And if one of the FIA Rally Star Team members wins the title, they secure a WRC2 campaign in a Rally2 car for 2026 with a Rally1 drive their next target.