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Monte Carlo stays on IRC calendar

Mikko Hirvonen, Ford, Monte Carlo 2010Next year's Monte Carlo Rally will remain in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, once again turning down the invitation to return to the World Rally Championship.

The Monaco-based event has run in the IRC for the last two seasons, but with Jean Todt's arrival as president of the FIA - and his contact with the Automobile Club de Monaco there had been speculation that the event would return to the WRC.

Next year's event will be the 100th anniversary of the French Alpine rally, one of the world's most famous motorsport events.

An announcement from the ACM this afternoon has confirmed it as round one for IRC, however.

A statement said: "The Automobile Club de Monaco is pleased to announce that the 79th Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo will take place from Wednesday January 19 to Saturday January 23, 2011, and once again be the opening event of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)."

The route will be altered for next season, with the opening day's competition focused on the Ardeche while day two moves to the Drome region. The final day runs in the mountains close to Monaco and will include the midnight runs across the infamous Col de Turini.

There will be 13 individual stages, some of which will be run twice. The total distance will be 832 miles, 201 of which will be competitive.

ACM general commissioner Rene Isoart said: "Amateur drivers have been instrumental in some of the most wonderful episodes of the history of the Monte Carlo Rally. With their involvement, the rally was able to develop and span a whole century of automobile sport with great success.

"And so we would like the rally centenary to reflect this spirit - in early September, we will unveil a range of initiatives to encourage participation of amateur drivers in this historic edition, along with details of the route."

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