FORMER Coffs Harbour resident Rebecca Smart and colleague Molly Taylor will make their debut in the 2011 World Rally Championship (WRC) in Portugal this week.
The duo is among 20 crews that will contest the WRC Academy series, a sub-series of the WRC.
The WRC Academy replaces the Junior WRC category and has been designed to give emerging drivers a strong foundation in all aspects of competing at the elite level of motorsport.
Of the 20 drivers involved, six scored a fully-funded scholarship to compete this year after impressing in the Pirelli Star Driver Shoot-Out in October.
After securing a scholarship, 22-year-old Taylor, now based in Sydney, chose Smart to call the race notes for her.
The opportunity is something Smart is still finding it difficult to believe.
“Competing in the world championship has been Molly’s dream for a long time and it’s taken so much hard work for her to get here,” the 24-year-old said.
“I’m just incredibly lucky that she asked me to be part of it.
“We both find it hard to believe that it’s all about to happen but once we get out on the stages for reconnaissance, it will be very real.”
A total of 75 cars have entered Rallye Portugal, the third round of this year’s world championship.
The field includes the 20 WRC Academy competitors all driving drive identical Ford Fiesta R2s.
“This is our first event at this level so we just want to do a good job, be on the pace and make sure we finish,” Smart said.
The event begins Thursday with a special 3.27km display stage in Lisbon.
Competition proper will comprise three stages commencing Friday.
The Academy drivers will contest two stages and the display stage.