Nasser Al-Attiyah will make his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on Rally Argentina next month, driving a Skoda Fabia S2000 for the Belgian Rene Georges Rally Sport team.
The highly-regarded Qatari, 39, is a hero in Argentina after he finished runner-up to Carlos Sainz on the Dakar Rally, which started and finished in the capital Buenos Aires last month.
He is also no stranger to the Villa Carlos Paz-based Rally Argentina, having won Group N on the event when it counted towards the World Rally Championship in 2009. He has experience of Super 2000 technology after winning the Qatar International Rally in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta last month.
Al-Attiyah, a six-time Middle East rally champion, will also contest other selected rounds of this year’s IRC and his programme will be confirmed after Rally Argentina.
New superspecial stage for Curitiba
Competitors on Rally Internacional de Curitiba are set for a spectacular finish to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event when the series resumes in Brazil next month.
A new 3.38-kilometre superspecial stage is being built close to the Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba where the gravel rally will be based from 4-6 March. It will mark the 15th and final stage of the event, round two of the IRC.
Crews will tackle the stage in pairs and organisers hope that up to 15,000 spectators will turn up to watch.
Event promoter Marcos Marcola said: "There will be a bridge with a crossing point so we can have two cars side by side. The stage is close to the city of Curitiba and close to the service park so we hope it will make it easy for the fans to go and see. Everybody likes this kind of show and I think it will be very exciting for the rally and for the drivers."
Meeke set for French test run
Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke will prepare for the second round of the series in Brazil next month with a four-day test in France from 8-11 February.
The 30-year-old from Northern Ireland won Rally Internacional de Curitiba when it was included in the IRC for the first time last season. It was his first of four victories during his title-winning campaign.
He said: "It’s a five-day Peugeot Sport test and I’m doing four days. More time in the car is always good and we should head to Brazil in good shape."
Peugeot UK driver Meeke received more good news recently when he was presented with the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs‘ Northern Ireland Motorsport Award.
Oliveira impresses team boss Stohl
Manfred Stohl has said his team’s driver Daniel Oliveira exceeded his expectations when he finished the 78th Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo last month in 20th overall.
The Intercontinental Rally Challenge opener was the first time the Brazilian had driven on snow and ice and Stohl said he was full of praise for the 24-year-old.
"One week before the rally he tested for two days in Austria and that was the first time he had driven on snow and ice," said Stohl. "Because of this I did not expect him to finish because the conditions were so difficult. But he listened very well and did a very good job to finish the rally. I was very pleased."
Oliveira’s Stohl Racing Peugeot 207 S2000 is currently being shipped to South America where rounds two and three of the IRC will take place next month.
Video highlights of Monte Carlo Rally online
Highlights of Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, can be found at www.rally-irc.com by going to the video section. The best moments from each day of the event plus a 26-minute event review are now available to watch.