Eurosport Events, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, announced last week that Subaru will join the IRC next year with the aim of supporting its customer competition business with the legendary Group N Impreza.
In the 2009 IRC season, seven manufacturers were represented with Abarth, Honda, Peugeot, Proton, Ralliart, Skoda and Volkswagen going head-to-head on spectacular events. The IRC series is designed not only to showcase these unique events through the use of innovative live television coverage, but also to provide competitors with an excellent promotional platform
VOUILLOZ JOINS SKODA FOR MONTE CARLO
Skoda has announced that it will field three factory Fabia Super 2000 cars at the Rallye Monte Carlo in January, following the decision to sign 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion, Nicolas Vouilloz.
Vouilloz, who competed in a Kronos Racing-run Peugeot Super 2000 last season, will link up with regulars Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen for what is the first event in the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
"The Monte Carlo Rally is an extremely challenging event and we see it as one of the most important races of the upcoming season," said Michal Hrabanek, head of Skoda Motorsport. "The 2009 Monte Carlo event successfully started off our new project Fabia Super 2000 and then the whole 2009 season was a success for our crews and a great motivation for the entire team to work hard also in the future."
MEEKE AND NAGLE TO STAR AT IRC AWARDS CEREMONY
Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle will be at the centre of attention among the 2009 IRC champions when the IRC Awards Ceremony takes place in Paris next Monday, December 14.
Meeke secured the Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers‘ title alongside Nagle in a Peugeot UK 207 Super 2000. The awards for the IRC manufacturers‘ title (Peugeot) and 2WD cups for drivers‘ (Dennis Millet) and manufacturers‘ (Peugeot) will also be handed out on the night.
Meeke and Nagle plan to defend their crown next season in a Kronos Racing-run Peugeot 207 starting on Monte Carlo Rally from January 19-23. They won a total of four IRC rounds this season and claimed the title by 11 points over Skoda Motorsport pair Jan Kopecky and Petr Stary.
WITTMANN TRIES SKODA AHEAD OF NEW IRC SEASON
Franz Wittmann will try a Skoda Fabia Super 2000 this weekend as he continues his preparations for next season’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The rising Austrian star finished 14th in the IRC standings this season at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer E9. He has driven a Peugeot 207 S2000 subsequently and could use the French car for his programme in 2010.
He will enter the Slusovice Rally Sprint in the Skoda. The event uses asphalt roads close to Zlin, venue of Czech Republic’s IRC round."Testing the Skoda will give us figures to compare with the Peugeot," said Wittmann Jr. "I would like to run with the leaders but it will be difficult because it is my very first time in the car and I can’t make any mistakes.
Wittmann Jr scored IRC points on two occasions in 2009, in the Azores and Russia.
IRISH DRIVERS TEMPTED BY MONTE CARLO IRC
Two leading Irish drivers are planning to enter next year’s Monte Carlo Rally, which will feature extensive live coverage on Eurosport
Eamonn Boland, the 2008 Irish Tarmac champion, and Daniel Barry, who won the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge in the UK this season, are due to compete in a pair of Mitsubishi Lancers.
Boland, who will drive a latest specification Lancer E10, said: "It can be a hard rally but it’s also a great rally to go and do at that time of the year."
Entries for the event close on January 7 and are available at www.acm.mc.
YPRES PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY
The preparations for the 2010 Geko Ypres Rally are already well underway, with the rally taking place during the last weekend of June.
Geko Woonwereld, a large furniture supplier from Zulte, will sponsor the Belgium Ypres Rally for the next two seasons. Geko has already supported several well known drivers and is now looking forward to partnering with the Belgium Ypres Rally.
Alain Penasse, rally manager of the Belgium Ypres Rally said: "We are really pleased to be able to work with a company like Geko. It is a large player in the market and they understand rallying. In these difficult times, it was a good thing for Geko to partner up with the Belgium Ypres Rally and we are convinced that this partnership will allow us to grow the event over the coming years."
BIG CELEBRATIONS PLANNED FOR IRC’S CZECH ROUND
Barum Czech Rally Zlin might be more than eight months away but organisers are already planning a series of celebrations to mark the event’s 40th anniversary.
The popular asphalt rally, which was won by Skoda Motorsport driver Jan Kopecky this season, is due to form the eighth round of next year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge from August 27-28.
Some 265,000 spectators attended the event last summer and rally bosses are promising plenty of surprises for fans lining the route on next year’s event.
"The time at the end of the summer holidays proved to be good and we are preparing many surprises for the spectators next year," said clerk of the course Milos Regner.