Abarth's Anton Alen will miss this weekend's Rally Madeira, the latest round in the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge after being struck down by a virus.

A statement from the organisers of the IRC confirmed that Umberto Scandola, who drove for Abarth in the IRC last year and who drives for the manufacturer in the Italian Rally Championship, will sub for the Finn and partner last year's winner, Giandomenico Basso.

"It's a huge shame for Anton and he is very disappointed," Alen's famous father Markku told the official IRC website. "For a week he has suffered from a very high fever, caused by a virus.

"We hoped he would be OK for this weekend, but it became clear that this was not going to happen. So his focus now is to be fully fit for the Barum Rally later in August."

While Anton Alen recuperates at home his father will still be in Madeira however, as he is scheduled to drive a new Fiat 500 Abarth as a course car on the event, which gets underway this evening with the traditional 2.8-kilometre spectator superspecial stage through the streets of Funchal.

After the superspecial stage, the cars head into the mountains for two full days of rallying on Friday and Saturday. In total, there are 282.18 competitive kilometres on the menu, split into 21 stages. The event is due to finish at 18:00 hours [local time] on Saturday evening.

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