The Motor Sports Association has selected Kris Hall as the UK’s candidate for the 2009 Pirelli International Star Driver shootout.
The MSA Rally Elite driver will head to Jyvaskyla, in Finland on July 29-30 to compete on a gravel rally event tied to the Neste Oil Rally Finland. He will be up against the nominees from up to nine other governing bodies across northern Europe and will be judged on a number of different criteria including, but not limited to, driving performance.
Five drivers will then be selected to go forward to the Pirelli European Shoot-Out in Freistadt, Austria on September 18-20. There will be a maximum of 23 drivers from across Europe who will do battle for one of rallying’s most valuable prizes – one of two fully-funded six-event campaigns in the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Hall, 19, from Appleby, Cumbria, who is this year campaigning a Ford Fiesta ST Group N rally car in the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy UK and last weekend recorded his first win of the season on the Scottish Rally. “I am thankful to the judges for putting their faith in my ability to deliver; they have recognised that I have the potential and the pace to go out there and win the shoot-out. I am absolutely committed to making it to the WRC and I will give 110% in order to achieve my ambition.
“I’ve learned so much from being in the MSA Rally Academy last year and graduating onto the Elite scheme this year. I am much better prepared for this challenge than I was before and have been working closely with the team on the physical, nutritional and psychological aspects of my performance.”
Hall was confirmed as the UK nomination by MSA Performance Director Robert Reid, following a recommendation by a specially-convened panel of experts from UK rallying, comprising Phil Mills, Guy Wilks, Mike Broad, Mark Taylor and Motorsport News’ deputy editor, James Attwood. The panel considered all members of the MSA’s Rally Elite and Academy programmes who were registered for this year’s British Rally Championship.
“We had a very interesting debate,” explained panel member and former British rally champion Mike Broad. “There was a lot to discuss and many different opinions, but at the end of the day we took a unanimous decision that Kris was the right person to represent the UK this year. It’s a fantastic opportunity for him and I’m sure he won’t let us down.”
Last year’s UK nominee was Adam Gould, who gave a tremendous performance in the 2008 International Shootout, narrowly and unexpectedly missing out on selection as one of the winners despite being consistently the quickest driver on the event. However, Gould’s experience enabled him to win the UK Pirelli Shootout later in the year to earn himself a fully-funded drive in the 2009 British Rally Championship and on last month’s Jim Clark Rally, Adam claimed his first BRC podium finish.
“The shootout was an amazing experience,” confirmed Gould, 22. “The competition is so intense and you’re never quite sure what the judges are looking for, so all you can do is your best and make sure you keep it on the road! I’m sure Kris will do really well, but whatever happens, to get that kind of experience early in your career is so important.”
“The MSA Elite schemes were set up to prepare our best drivers for this kind of opportunity,” said Robert Reid, MSA Performance Director. “This is a great initiative by Pirelli and offers one of the best prizes in the sport. We will make sure that Kris gets all the help and support he needs in preparation for the first event, and I’m sure he will make a strong impact on the judges.”
About Kris Hall
Date of birth: 15/07/89
Born: Penrith, Cumbria
Lives: Appleby, Cumbria
Works: For his father’s construction company
First rally: Tour of Mull, October 2006 in a Ford Escort MKII
Rally Achievements: 2007: Peugeot 205 Champion
2008: Fiesta Sporting Trophy International Shootout runner-up.
Having started competing in grass track events from the age of 14, Kris started co-driving for his father once he’d turned 16. One month after passing his driving test, he made his competitive stage rallying debut on the challenging Tour of Mull in October 2006.
In his first full year of competition, Kris contested and won the British Peugeot 205 Series with backing from Stobart Motorsport, becoming – with his then co-driver Ella – the youngest crew ever to win a rally outright in Britain when they won the 205 Swansea Bay Rally.
In 2008, Kris retained sponsorship from Stobart and competed in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy UK. After a demanding and close-fought year, Kris agonisingly missed out on the runner-up spot in the Championship, but was awarded the UK wildcard entrant at the Fiesta SportingTrophy International Shootout 2008 for his proven pace during the season. Ultimately, Kris finished a fantastic second in the shootout, winning both the fitness and driving sections, and this prompted M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson to announce his support for Hall in 2009.
About the Pirelli “Star Driver” competition in Europe
The Pirelli Star Driver programme is designed to find rallying’s most talented and promising young drivers from the FIA regional championships in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. Each of the regional series’ will host a Shoot-Out competition as a finale to the qualification process, with the successful five drivers (one from Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, and two from Europe) being awarded a six-event FIA World Rally Championship programme for 2010.
Qualification for the scheme varies from region to region, but every driver registering has to be aged 27 or younger on 1 January 2009. Registration for the Pirelli Star Driver scheme is free and open to every driver who is a permanent resident of a country affiliated to the FIA. The programme is only open to drivers who have not contested more than three World Rally Championship events in the current or past season. Competitors can use any rally car which qualifies for their FIA regional rally championship.
Release MSA09-030: 1 July 2009