With his sights set firmly on gaining a place in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship next year, young South African driver Max Smart has been honing his skills and turned in his best result yet in the recent Rally RACC Catalunya.
Smart is the only South African to have been selected for #BeTheNextOne FIA Rally Star Training and joined five talented young drivers selected from across the world to be a part of this FIA-funded team, sponsored for their raw talent to compete in six rallies across Europe in 2023.
In the Catalunya event, the penultimate round of the Rally Star 2023 season, Smart delivered his best performance yet by finishing second among the FIA Rally Star drivers, third in the Rally 3 class, and 12th overall in the rally.
This was a significant achievement for the 21-year-old, who has been striving to improve his consistency and pace in the car. Smart has been putting in the hard work and dedication to hone his skills and showcase his potential. And it has paid dividends with this result.
Max Smart (left) and Cameron Fair
Max spent time in the United Kingdom training with the team at Elite Sports Performance and competing in select events in the five weeks before the event. He was quick to give credit where credit is due to his co-driver Cameron Fair (the current ERC3 champion and 2022 Scottish champion).
A driver and co-driver partnership is crucial in rally racing, and Max and Fair's partnership has been instrumental in their success. Together, they have been working tirelessly on their consistency and pace, with Fair providing valuable tips from pace notes to braking, turn-in, and exiting corners. With this knowledge and experience behind him, Smart could keep a clean race and improve with each stage.
But it's not just about one race for Smart. He has his sights set on securing a spot in the FIA Junior WRC Championship for next year. And with one event left for 2023 – Lausitz Rallye (November 9-11), Smart will be utilising everything he has learned from his latest training event to impress and secure his place in the championship.
Work to be done
Although he may have impressed at the latest training event, Smart knows that there is still a lot of work to be done before the Lausitz Rallye. But he remains determined and focused, knowing this is his final chance to make his dream a reality. And he is not alone in his pursuit. The other five drivers will also be giving it their all, as they too have their eyes set on securing a seat in the FIA Junior WRC Championship next year.
The FIA Rally Star Training Season is a unique opportunity for young drivers to showcase their skills and prove themselves on the world stage. With the support and guidance of experienced co-drivers like Cameron Fair, these drivers can push themselves to new levels and gain valuable experience along the way.
As we approach the final event of the season, all eyes will be on Max Smart and his fellow competitors, as they battle it out for a chance to make their mark in the FIA Junior WRC Championship. The road to success in rally racing is not an easy one, but with hard work, determination, and the right team by their side, anything is possible.
Colin Windell – proudly ALL THINGS MOTORING