Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen has announced that he will focus on the World Rally Championship's Super 2000 category in 2011 rather than defending his IRC title
The Skoda driver talked to AUTOSPORT about his new deal.
Q. How does it feel to be going back to the WRC?
Juho Hanninen: Of course, I'm very happy. I have said many times that my target is in the world championship, so I'm happy to have my programme confirmed for the future. The IRC is good and it is a natural step for me to move to WRC.
Q. Will you contest any IRC rounds?
JH: I will do the Monte Carlo Rally, but we don't know more than that. Barum [Czech Rally Zlin] could be a possibility, but the focus for me is now on the WRC programme.
Q. Will you continue to test as much for Skoda?
JH: I hope so, yes, of course. I am still in the same team, still part of the Skoda team, so I don't think anything should change for next year. I think we will do the tests the same way that I did them last year.
Q. Will you miss the IRC?
JH: I will miss the competition in the IRC, it was always close fighting. I will miss my team-mate Jan Kopecky, we have done a lot of rallies together now and, of course, I will miss some of the rallies like Sanremo. This year IRC includes Corsica and an event in Argentina, these will be good rallies.
Another nice thing about the IRC has been the atmosphere in the championship, it's very warm from everybody and, you know, everybody is always very relaxed. I'm sure, or I hope, the WRC will be the same. But, in IRC, the fights will be the same, you know, the guys like Freddy [Loix] and Jan will be up there.
Q. What exactly is your programme in S-WRC?
JH: At the moment, we're doing seven rallies. Of course, I want to do as many as possible, but I am happy with what we've got and looking forward to starting in the WRC again. At the moment, we are supposed to be starting in Mexico, I think this is the plan, so we're not going to be on the first round in Sweden.
Q. How much do you know about your Red Bull Skoda team-mate Hermann Gassner Jr?
JH: I know him a little bit from the rallies we have both done. I was talking to him in Catalunya and in Wales earlier this season and he's a good guy. I also saw him in Finland this year and he was quick. He seems to be a nice guy and I hope I can help him to learn something, he's a young guy and, you know, this is the new car for him - quite different car from Group N [Mitsubishi Lancer] he drove this year.
Q. What's the aim for 2011?
JH: Of course, to win the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, nothing else.
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