In recent years a new rally series, Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) has become more prominent and I expect it to become more important in the next few years. At this time there are more manufacturers involved in the IRC than are involved in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Some rallies that have been part of the WRC in the past are part of the IRC series. For the past couple of years, the Monte Carlo Rally has been part of the IRC, but in 2012 the Monte Carlo Rally will once again be part of the WRC.
The Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) is sanctioned by the FIA, aiming to give new opportunities to young or amateur rally drivers competing in recognized regional and international rallies, while offering organizers an innovative TV format concept, created by Eurosport Events, Ltd. The series started in 2006 as the “International Rally Challenge”, but it was changed to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2007.
This series focuses on FIA Group N and Group A spec cars up to 2000cc (including Super 2000, R4, R2 and R3).
In 2011, the drivers standings were as follows:
IRC Four-Wheel Drive Drivers Championship
1. MIKKELSEN Andreas 153
2. KOPECKÝ Jan 152
3. HANNINEN Juho 125
4. LOIX Freddy 123
5. NEUVILLE Thierry 115
As you can see from the drivers standings, some of these drivers have some experience at the WRC level. So while the series includes young drivers and amateurs there are some very experienced drivers competing in this series as well.
The manufactures’ championship standing show the wide variety of manufacturers who do support this series.
IRC Manufacturers Championship
In 2012, the IRC has increased the total number of rallies from 11 to 13. The complete 2012 IRC schedule is shown below.
2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge Schedule
February 23-25 Sata Rallye Açores (gravel)
March15-17 Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés (asphalt)
April 6-7 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally (asphalt)
May 11-12 Tour de Corse (asphalt)
June 2-3 Canon Mecsek Rallye (Hungary, asphalt)
June 21-23 GEKO Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt)
July 6-7 Rally San Marino (gravel)
July 20-22 Sibiu Rally Romania (gravel)
August 31-2 September Barum Czech Rally Zlín (asphalt)
September 15-16 Prime Yalta Rally (Ukraine, asphalt)
September 29-30 Rally Sliven (Bulgaria, asphalt)
October 12-13 Rallye Sanremo (Italy, asphalt)
November 2-3 Cyprus Rally (gravel/asphalt)
As you can see, some of the rallies have been part of the WRC in the past.
Last year, scores from the competitor’s best seven finishes counted toward the championship. With two more rallies added to the calendar in 2012, perhaps it will be changed to the best eight finishes, but I do not know for certain whether this will be the case in 2012 at this time.
I plan to keep an eye on this series during 2012 and will be posting some rally results and standings throughout the year.