Francois Delecour set for 10-event ERC programme
|Monday, December 31st 2012, 10:37 GMT|
Francois Delecour is set to contest 10 rounds of the European Rally Championship in 2013 starting with this weekend's Janner Rally in Austria.
Delecour, a winner of four world championship rallies and the 1993 WRC runner-up, will drive a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 for Kronos Racing with backing from several companies in Romania.
The 50-year-old Frenchman has not competed internationally on a regular basis since he left Mitsubishi's WRC squad at the end of 2002, but came out of semi-retirement in 2012 to win the Romanian rally title.
He has also made selected WRC and Intercontinental Rally Challenge outings in the intervening period, coming sixth on the 2012 Monte Carlo Rally.
Delecour's programme effectively makes him a full-time competitor and potential title contender in the 13-round series. Few drivers have started all ERC or IRC events in previous years.
"I hope we'll be able to do about 10 ERC rounds this year: that would be the plan, plus all the Romanian championship, so it's definitely going to be a busy year," said Delecour.
"But I feel much better prepared than I did last season, because I've been competing regularly and we've got a proper programme in a perfectly developed car with the chance to go testing as well.
"That really makes the difference. It's as close as you get to a factory campaign so I am very, very happy."
Delecour has never competed on the asphalt-based Janner Rally, which is expected to take place in snow and icy conditions when it gets underway on Friday.
"We'll have a day of testing before the event, which will help a lot and I'm beginning to know the 207 quite well now while Kronos is a team that speaks for itself, so I don't think it will be a problem."
With Robert Kubica not making his ERC bow until later in the year, Delecour is one of the best-known names competing in Austria.
Stig Blomqvist, the 1984 world champion, drives a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX while Skoda's Jan Kopecky is the top-seeded competitor.