Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke says the decision of the Automobile Club de Monaco to continue its relationship with the IRC for a third season is "great news" for the Eurosport Events-promoted series.
The 2011 IRC season will get underway on the world-famous rally from Wednesday 19 January to Saturday 23 January with next year’s event marking 100 years since the first Monte Carlo Rally took place on 21 January 1911.
Meeke said: "It’s great news and shows the Monte organisers like the style of how the IRC is approaching the sport by taking it back to its roots and encouraging amateurs and importers to take part. The TV coverage on Eurosport is second to none and for a driver the Monte is one of the biggest challenges in rallying, if not motorsport as a whole."
Full details of the route and several key features, including initiatives to encourage the participation of amateur drivers as well as live television coverage, will be announced later in the year. The ACM has confirmed the rally route will include 324 competitive kilometres over 13 stages.
Basso and Rossetti join bulging Madeira entry
Factory-supported Abarth drivers Giandomenico Basso and Luca Rossetti will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Rali Vinho Madeira next month.
The Italians have claimed numerous victories in the IRC with Basso winning the Tarmac-based Madeira event on three occasions, including last season when he defeated Bruno Magalhaes in a nail-biting finish.
Basso and Rossetti are among 19 drivers in Super 2000 machines for the island rally, which runs from 5-7 August and features almost 300 competitive kilometres over 21 special stages.
Other notable highlights on the 56-car entry are Skoda trio Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky and Freddy Loix, defending IRC champion Kris Meeke and Bruno Magalhaes, the winner of the last IRC round in the Azores.
Heading the list of local drivers is Bernardo Sousa at the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. Miguel Campos, a former Madeira winner, will drive a similar car.
Turkish lady driver Burcu Cetinkaya will also be taking part after being forced to miss the trip to the Azores while her Peugeot Sport Turkey 207 was being repaired following her crash on the Geko Ypres Rally last month.
Trophy winner Magalhaes earns praise from Jim McRae
Jim McRae has praised Bruno Magalhaes after the Portuguese driver won the first Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy on Sata Rallye Acores last weekend.
The award, which is presented in memory of Jim McRae’s son Colin, will be handed to the most spectacular driver who best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on rounds of the IRC.
It was conceived following the formation of an official partnership last month between Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, and Colin McRae Vision, a charity established following the death of McRae, his young son Johnny and two family friends in a helicopter accident in 2007, which aims to improve health and education for children around the world.
"Even though he had good knowledge of the stages from before, he’s new to the IRC so to go at the pace he did obviously proves he’s got a load of talent," said Jim McRae. "I’m very pleased for him and it’s also a great thing to hear that Colin was his hero when he was growing up."
Silva secures latest Subaru Individual Award
Sergio Silva has won the latest Subaru Individual Award following his eighth-place finish on Sata Rallye Acores last weekend.
Silva, from Portugal, was one of five Subaru Impreza drivers contesting the gravel-based Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier on the Atlantic archipelago. Co-driven by Paulo Leal, Silva finished more than two minutes ahead of the next highest Subaru finishers, Paulo Rego and Abel Carreiro. The result also meant Silva secured one manufacturers‘ point for Subaru, while also earning a drivers‘ point for himself.
The Subaru Individual Award is presented on each of the 12 IRC rounds this year to the highest-placed Subaru finisher and demonstrates the support that Subaru is extending to its customer drivers in the IRC in 2010.
Olivier Burri (Monte Carlo), Juan San Martin (Curitiba), Gabriel Pozzo (Argentina), Jose Barrios (Canary Islands), Teemu Arminen (Sardinia) and Florian Gonon (Ypres) are the other Subaru Individual Award winners so far this season.