Juho Hanninen believes his Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky will start Barum Czech Rally Zlin with the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.
Kopecky, who hails from Czech Republic, is currently second in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge standings and will be the favourite to land his first victory in the series on home soil later this month.
Finn Hanninen, who claimed Skodas maiden IRC win in Russia last month, said: The pressure will be on Jan because he is a Czech driver in a Czech car and is very quick. It will be my first time there so I am not expecting anything too much. A top-five finish would be good for me.
Meeke says fifth was crucial in Madeira
Kris Meeke has described his fifth-place finish on Rali Vinho Madeira as being crucial in his bid to claim the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title, adding that his haul of four points was harder to achieve than the three maximum scores he has landed this season.
The 30-year-old Peugeot UK driver moved five points clear of Jan Kopecky at the top of the drivers standings.
I probably worked harder for those four points than I did for the ten I got in Brazil, Azores and Ypres, said Meeke. Its such a tough place to go for the first time. Its such a specialised event and its very difficult to learn the roads. In Ypres you had maybe 100 corners per stage to learn but in Madeira it was more like 300.
Alen hails Basso victory in Madeira
Giandomenico Bassos first win in this years Intercontinental Rally Challenge is just the fillip the factory Abarth squad needs in its efforts to get its season back on track.
Thats the view of Bassos team-mate Anton Alen, who will return to the Italian team for the Barum Czech Rally Zlin later this month. He said: Its a great result and of course its a big boost for the team, said Alen. He has always been quick there but to prove it again with the opposition he faced is very good.
The Abarth team is due to undertake a test before it resumes its IRC campaign in Czech Republic.
Llovera endorses IRC TV packaging
Albert Llovera has revealed he was attracted to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by the amount of television coverage on pan-European network Eurosport.
Llovera finished 21st on the recent Rali Vinho Madeira, which marked his debut in the series. He was driving an Abarth Grande Punto Super 2000. The IRC gives you more possibilities of getting sponsorship because the TV on Eurosport is very good, he said.
The Andorran driver, 42, typically contests a couple of international rallies each season but hadnt competed in the IRC until the recent visit to Madeira. He uses special hand controls after being paralysed from the waist down in an accident when he was competing in a Super G skiing event in Sarajevo in 1985.
Portuguese celebrate classic Rali Vinho Madeira
Pedro Araujo, the clerk of the course of Rali Vinho Madeira, has described the recent Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier as one of the best ever.
Works Abarth driver Giandomenico Basso won the event, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Italian beat Portugals Bruno Magalhaes by 3.5 seconds in a scintillating finish, his third victory on the island. Alex Camacho, also from Portugal, finished third.
Araujo said: For many years we hadnt seen the rally finishing with such a difference between the first and second places. It was an excellent rally with many people on the roads watching. The competition among the drivers was very hot and hard and was incredibly competitive. We also had the pleasure of seeing two Portuguese drivers fighting for the podium places, which was remarkable. It was one of the all time best editions of the rally, at least for the competition we saw on the road.