The organisers of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge have confirmed that the Rallye Monte Carlo will form part of the series in 2009.
Michel Boeri, the president of the Automobile Club de Monaco and Jacques Behar, the president of Intercontinental Rally Challenge promoter Eurosport Events, announced the deal today at the ACM headquarters in Monaco.
It means that the 77th edition of the event will now open the IRC in January next year, at the start of the IRC season that is due to take in between ten and twelve events over three different continents.
The agreement has been made possible as the Monte will not feature as part of the FIA World Rally Championship in '09, due to the new rotation system that comes into force and means each WRC event takes place only once every two years.
"With the new alternation system put in place by the FIA, we looked at a number of possibilities in order to keep the organisation of the Monte Carlo Rally going," explained Rene Isoart, the clerk of the course for the ACM. "The IRC is the perfect solution. In its debut season, this series has demonstrated all its dynamism, value and potential.
"The idea won us over, so we are very happy to join this intercontinental series in 2009 and benefit from some exceptional media coverage that highlights the fundamental values of rallying: a healthy majority of amateurs, some stunning landscapes, a diverse field, close competition, and the emphasis firmly on the talent of individual drivers and co-drivers."
Behar meanwhile is delighted to have added the Monte to the IRC schedule, especially as the championship is still young and only just entering its third year.
"It's a very big honour for the IRC to start the 2009 season with the Monte Carlo Rally, the most prestigious event in the history of this sport," he stated. "We have put in place an innovative media strategy around the IRC, the objective of which is to bring rallying to the people, especially via live television.
"We are going to continue developing this coverage into the future, and we will be delighted to offer all the fans of the Monte Carlo Rally, as well as of sport and rallying in general, live international coverage of this legendary event through the Eurosport network."
The 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge meanwhile will begin in April with the Istanbul Rally. The event in Turkey replaces the Safari Rally, which had originally been scheduled to kick off the year for the IRC, but which was abandoned due to the current political situation in Kenya.