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ERC NEWS 

Hanninen may yet defend IRC title

ReJuho Hanninenigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen may yet defend his title alongside his new S2000 World Rally Championship campaign.

Skoda had previously announced that the only IRC rounds it would enter Hanninen on this year would be the Monte Carlo season-opener and the team's home event - Rally Zlin - in August. His main focus would be an S-WRC programme with Red Bull Skoda.

But after Hanninen's excellent performance in Monte Carlo - where he dominated until a poor tyre choice in the sudden snow dropped him to sixth - Skoda team manager Pavel Hortek reckons an expanded IRC programme is now likely for the Finn.

And with IRC drivers only counting their best seven scores from the 12-round season, and bonus points on offer in the final two rounds in Scotland and Cyprus, a partial programme could still give Hanninen a shot at retaining his title.

"We were very pleased with what Juho did [in Monte Carlo]," said Hortek. "His schedule is not confirmed and we cannot say officially, but definitely he will do Barum and I would imagine the rest of the season will be Cyprus, Scotland and some other rallies on asphalt."

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