Petter Solberg has vowed to fight for victory when he makes his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on Rallye Monte-Carlo next month.
The former world rally champion will drive a Peugeot Sport-run 207 Super 2000 on the asphalt classic, which he has contested on eight previous occasions.
"For sure there are many drivers doing the event who have much more experience in Super 2000 cars while I have none," said Solberg. "But I have a lot of experience on the rally and I know what can go wrong so I will be prepared. Like every other rally I do I will be thinking to push and to win and I will come up with a proper plan and strategy to do that."
The 36-year-old from Norway continued: "I like the rally a lot even though I have not always had the best result. Because it will be the 100-year anniversary the rally will be very, very special."
Solberg and Northern Irish co-driver Chris Patterson will be among 120 crews taking part on the event, which runs from 18-22 January and will be televised live on Eurosport. They will get their first experience of the 207 they will use on the event during a test in France early next month.
Mixed weather test boosts champion Hanninen
Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen says changeable weather during a test in France last week has boosted his chances of winning Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time.
Finn Hanninen finished second on the event last January and will be among the favourites for victory in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. The event has a reputation for unpredictable weather conditions with snow and ice a frequent hazard for the crews.
"We had dry Tarmac then wet Tarmac and then snow and ice so it was all the conditions that we could possibly have on the rally," said Hanninen, 29. "We were also able to see how the tyres performed in the different conditions so we got some useful data."
Hanninen will test again in Czech Republic in early January alongside a number of other Skoda drivers. "We’ll have real winter then so it will be good preparation also."
Atkinson ready for Monte’s massive challenge
Chris Atkinson says he is relishing the prospect of contesting Rallye Monte-Carlo for PROTON Motorsports, despite acknowledging the "massive challenge" he will encounter on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge season opener, which runs from 18-22 January.
Australian Atkinson, who made his IRC debut for the Malaysian squad on last June’s Geko Ypres Rally, has prior experience of the asphalt event, which will celebrate its centenary next month.
He said: "Starting the season with the Monte is awesome. As a rally driver, this is the traditional place where we always start our year. I’ve always gone well on the event, but it is really tough. Running high in the Alps in January, you never know what’s really coming around the next corner: it could be dry asphalt, wet asphalt, snow or ice. It’s a massive challenge for the team and the driver, with one of the most important aspects being to get the [choices of] tyres right."
Atkinson, 31, will be partnered in the British-based PROTON team by Swede P-G Andersson on Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Swiss star Gonon back in the IRC
Florian Gonon will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Rallye Monte-Carlo next month, less than six months after clinching the Subaru Individual Award on the Geko Ypres Rally.
The 2009 Swiss rally champion finished 16th overall on the Belgian event to clinch the Subaru-backed accolade, which was handed out to the highest-placed driver in one of the Japanese manufacturer’s cars on rounds of the IRC in 2010.
He will make his IRC comeback in an N12-model Impreza on Rallye Monte-Carlo alongside navigator Sandra Arlettaz. Their planned appearance follows on from finishing second overall on Rallye International du Valais in Switzerland last October. That event counted as a round of the IRC in the past and includes some stages that are similar in layout to those found on the 2011 IRC opener.
Gonon’s Subaru will run under the Annie Spiers Rallye Team banner. Michael Burri and Stephen Rey will also represent Switzerland on the centenary edition of the famous event.
Rallye Monte-Carlo media accreditation
Media representatives planning to attend Rallye Monte-Carlo have until 7 January to apply for accreditation at:
Holders of or those planning to apply for a permanent IRC press credential, which grants access to all 12 IRC events, do not have to apply for round-by-round accreditation but must email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm their event attendance throughout the season.
New Year wishes from the IRC Team
The IRC Team wishes you a Happy New Year 2011: