Nasser Al-Attiyah has said the opportunity to win rallies outright was one of the major influences behind his decision to enter the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this year.
Al-Attiyah, from Qatar, will drive a Rene Georges Rally Sport-run Skoda Felicia S2000 on at least six rounds of the IRC this season. His first event will be Rally Argentina in March, where he won the Group N division in eighth overall when the event counted as a round of the world championship in 2009.
He said: "In the IRC if you win, you win the race and it’s not always like that in some other rallies I do. This is very important for the concentration and makes it so interesting to be doing the IRC. I am doing so much to win this championship and I know it can be a good fight because the rallies are always open with many good drivers."
Basso and Rossetti get factory Abarths for Sanremo
Abarth has put itself in a strong position to add to its tally of wins in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by confirming that it will enter a pair of factory-supported Abarth Grande Punto Super 2000s on Rallye Sanremo in September for two former event winners.
The Turin manufacturer, which has claimed six overall wins since the IRC began in 2007, has signed star drivers Giandomenico Basso and Luca Rossetti to lead its assault on the Italian Rally Championship, which runs alongside the IRC on the Sanremo-based Tarmac rally from September 23-25.
Basso and Rossetti have both claimed four victories apiece in the IRC (Rossetti was driving a Peugeot 207 when he landed his quartet of wins), and both have won in Sanremo before, with Rossetti triumphing in 2007 and Basso taking the laurels the following season.
Team Trico Motor Sport will run the factory Abarths this season.
M-Sport Fiesta ranks set to grow
The number of M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000s competing in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is set to rise after Martin Prokop and Bernardo Sousa confirmed that they will contest selected events in the car.
Prokop, from Czech Republic, and Sousa, from Portugal, are both highly-rated. Prokop is planning to enter the rounds in Sardinia, Zlin and Sanremo. Sousa will be in action on the IRC events in Acores and Madeira.
With Andreas Mikkelsen already confirming his seven-event campaign in a Fiesta, news that more examples of the car will take part in the IRC is a further boost to the series.
Mikko Hirvonen took a Fiesta S2000 to a debut victory on Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo last month. Although there won’t be any Fiestas in action on Rally Internacional de Curitiba in Brazil next month, Federico Villagra is due to drive one of the cars on Rally Argentina.
Wittmann excited by IRC schedule
Franz Wittmann has spoken of his delight after finalising his Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedule in his Interwetten Racing Peugeot 207 S2000.
The Austrian had contemplated contesting the South American rounds in Brazil and Argentina next month but will instead focus on a programme of European-based events, starting with the fourth round of the series in Sardinia. He will also compete in Ypres, Acores, Zlin, Asturias, Sanremo and Cyprus.
"I’m so happy to get everything sorted out and to know I am going back to some events I know from last year," said Wittmann, 26. "We have a good mixture of Tarmac and gravel events and I can’t wait to experience these rallies and get more knowledge of driving my Peugeot 207."
Wittmann, who began his 2010 IRC campaign on Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo last month, wants to contest a handful of practice rallies and also test his Romo Motorsporttechnik-run car prior to Rally d’Italia-Sardegna, which runs from 4-6 June.