New season of Europe-based IRC starts next week

New season of Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) starts next week with SATA Rallye Acores and according to championship’s official website event’s entry list is “full of stars”.

IRC enters 2012 with new ideas and new goals but with the same determination to be one of the most prominent rally championships in the world. Despite the fact that IRC will focus more exclusively on Europe in 2012, so not much is left of it’s “intercontinental” character. First event takes place in Portugal 23/25 February with two former winners and three IRC champions on it’s list of entries.

For some drivers IRC event in Portugal will be their first taste of action this year and for some, such as Volkswagen’s temporary Rally Sweden entry Andreas Mikkelsen, Portugal will be just one of the events in their busy schedules. Click on MORE for rest of the IRC press release.

Two former event winners and three Intercontinental Rally Challenge champions are among a star-studded 39-car entry for round one of the 2012 IRC season, SATA Rallye Açores, from 23-25 February.

Last year’s Azores winner, Juho Hänninen, and defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen head the entry in their Fabia S2000s run by ŠKODA Motorsport and ŠKODA UK Motorsport respectively.

Bryan Bouffier and multiple Portuguese rally champion Bruno Magalhães, who claimed a dramatic final-stage victory in the Azores in 2009, front the Peugeot challenge in their 207 S2000s, with young German stars Hermann Gassner Jr and Sepp Wiegand representing Red Bull Team and ŠKODA Auto Deutschland.

Oleksandr Saliuk and Olekssi Tamrazov will pilot a brace of M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000s, while Rashid Al Ketbi is entered in a Fabia S2000 for the exciting Skydive Dubai Rally Team.

Azorean Ricardo Moura will again be favourite for IRC Production Cup honours in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer, although Romania-based Italian Marco Tempestini will provide strong opposition in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

Paulo Maciel will be looking to extend his run of IRC 2WD Cup success in the Azores with fellow Citroën driver and former category champion Harry Hunt set to shine in his DS3 R3T.

László Vizin will make a one-off outing in a ŠKODA Fabia R2, while Menyhért Króser and Davide Cantina begin their respective bids for IRC 2WD Cup title glory. Robert Consani, Carlos Costa and Ivo Nogueira will also contest the highly competitive category.