Juho Hanninen is looking forward to flying the flag for Skoda in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season.

Hanninen, who finished runner-up in the Production Car World Rally Championship in 2008, will make his debut in the brand new Skoda Fabia Super 2000 on the Rallye Monte Carlo this week, part of a two-car assault, with Jan Kopecky in the sister machine.

Pre-season testing has gone well for Skoda and it is thought the car should be very competitive. Indeed Juho is confident the new Fabia will go the distance, but he knows the event itself won't be an easy one for him.

"I'm really looking forward to the rally and I am very proud to be a factory driver for Skoda. We've done quite a lot of testing and I'm confident about our reliability on the rally, which will be a very important factor," he stated.

"But equally, I am more confident on gravel than on asphalt so we will see what happens. This is my first Monte Carlo Rally, and one of the biggest challenges will be to get used to all the changing conditions."

Hanninen meanwhile is not the only star from the World Rally Championship that will be in action on this 77th edition of the Monte.

Ex-Subaru WRC man, Stephane Sarrazin will be competing in a factory Peugeot 207 S2000, as will former Citroen J-WRC man, Kris Meeke and current Junior champion, Sebastien Ogier.

Freddy Loix and 1994 World Rally champion, Didier Auriol will also drive Peugeot 207 S2000s, while former Suzuki WRT man Toni Gardemeister will compete in an Astra Racing-run Abarth Grande Punto S2000.

Jean-Pierre Nicolas, IRC Motorsports development manager and 1978 Monte Carlo Rally winner, believes that it is impossible to predict who will come out top.

"Monte Carlo is an event like no other that will provide the teams with a magnificent challenge," he continued. "We are fortunate this year to go back to some of the best-known stages from the past, and enjoy once again the magical night of Turini.

"It's always hard to predict a winner on any IRC round, but on this event it's almost impossible. There is a truly spectacular array of drivers and cars, and thanks to Eurosport's exciting live television coverage, more people than ever will be able to see them!"

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