The factory Abarth team will field a third car for up-and-coming Italian star Umberto Scandola on the Rallye du Valais this coming week, the penultimate round in this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The 23-year-old, who is a prot?g? of Abarth, made his debut in the IRC last year and led the last IRC round in Sanremo convincingly. He also drove on the Madeira Rally this year, substituting for an un-well Anton Alen.

Just as was the case in Sanremo, Scandola now joins Giandomenico Basso and Alen in the factory squad for Valais - an event where he finished third last year. Scandola's mission will be to help the drivers' title bid of Basso, who is closing in on IRC series leader Nicolas Vouilloz.

"It's very positive news for Abarth and for the IRC series," said spokesman for Abarth. "Umberto is a talented young driver who we are trying to develop, and Sanremo once more showed his potential.

"He was a podium finisher last year in Switzerland and we hope that he can repeat that performance this time as well."

Scandola will be co-driven by Guido d'Amore, who guided him to the podium on the Swiss stages last year.

"I can honestly say that Umberto is really quick," said d'Amore. "Considering that he only has a limited programme, it's quite amazing that he doesn't take long to get up to speed."

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