More events in the emerging Eastern European marketplace, visits to unchartered territories plus the inclusion of several classics, such as Rallye Sanremo and Tour de Corse, are among the highlights of the revamped Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedule for 2012.
In addition, ground-breaking SimulCam technology – which was pioneered this season and allows viewers to watch two cars tackling the same section of a stage at the same time – will be used in the television coverage from eight of the 13 events next year, thereby underlining Eurosport’s growing commitment to the all-action series.
Starting with the gravel-based Sata Rallye Acores in February and concluding with the mixed-surface Cyprus Rally in early November, the calendar will feature 13 rounds with events in Canary Islands, Ireland, Corsica, Hungary (Mecsek), Belgium (Ypres), San Marino, Romania, Czech Republic (Zlin), Ukraine (Yalta), Bulgaria (Sliven) and Italy (Sanremo).
In total there will be four new rallies on next season’s calendar: Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, Rally San Marino, Sibiu Rally Romania and Rally Sliven in Bulgaria. The inclusion of newcomers Bulgaria and Romania means that along with the existing IRC rounds in Czech Republic, Hungary and Ukraine there are now five events in the increasingly important Eastern European region.
As well as featuring two more events than this year, there is a greater number of gravel rounds planned for 2012 with three loose-surface qualifiers, up one from this year, plus one mixed-surface event appearing on the new list of dates. The extra event on gravel will raise the challenge facing crews as well as the spectacle for fans watching stage-side or at home on television.
There are nine rounds based purely on asphalt, while the Cyprus Rally will be the only event to use a combination of gravel and asphalt stages.
The inclusion of the Circuit of Ireland Rally will maintain an IRC round in the United Kingdom with many of the stages taking place in Northern Ireland. The event, which ran for the first time in 1931, is one of oldest rallies in the world and attracts huge support.
Francois Ribeiro, Eurosport Events’ Motorsport Business Director, said: “We are very pleased to have finalised the 2012 IRC calendar during what is a very exciting time for the IRC. With new territories, more gravel rallies, the continued inclusion of some of the sport’s most iconic events, plus the increased use of SimulCam technology in the live television broadcasts, IRC season six is set to be a big hit with the fans, drivers and teams.
“With more events in Eastern Europe the IRC will also benefit from new marketing and promotional opportunities, not to mention the huge numbers of spectators that attend those events. The new calendar will create an ideal platform for drivers to demonstrate their talents and for manufacturers and customer teams to showcase their products and services. We can’t wait for the action to get underway.”
2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge calendar *
Round 1, 23-25 February: Sata Rallye Acores (gravel)
Round 2, 15-17 March: Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles (asphalt)
Round 3, 6-7 April: Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally (asphalt)
Round 4, 11-12 May: Tour de Corse (asphalt)
Round 5, 2-3 June: Canon Mecsek Rallye (Hungary, asphalt)
Round 6, 21-23 June: GEKO Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt)
Round 7, 6-7 July: Rally San Marino (gravel)
Round 8, 20-22 July: Sibiu Rally Romania (gravel)
Round 9, 31 August-2 September: Barum Czech Rally Zlin (asphalt)
Round 10, 15-16 September: Prime Yalta Rally (Ukraine, asphalt)
Round 11, 29-30 September: Rally Sliven (Bulgaria, asphalt)
Round 12, 12-13 October: Rallye Sanremo (Italy, asphalt)
Round 13, 2-3 November: Cyprus Rally (gravel/asphalt)
* Subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council approval
– Credit: IRC Series.