Franz Wittmann Jr believes his performances in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge can only improve this season following his debut on the Rallye Monte Carlo last month.

Despite being forced to retire when his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 developed an engine fault on the final leg, the Austrian was satisfied with his efforts after running in ninth overall before he stopped.

"We didn't have the luck this time," Wittmann Jr said. "Nevertheless we learned a lot during this rally.

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"We gained international recognition and can be confident that we can keep up with our rivals on the next rallies with a similar performance."

Wittmann Jr is contesting six further IRC rounds this season in his Interwetten Racing Lancer, which is being run by Manfred Stohl's eponymous team. His next event is the IRC's inaugural visit to the Portuguese Azores islands for the gravel-based Sata Rally Acores from May 7-9.

Stohl, a former podium finisher in the World Rally Championship, praised his driver's showing on the Monte.

"In my opinion Franz has already graduated to the international stage with this performance," said Stohl.

"Monte Carlo was a very difficult rally with a lot of snow and extremely difficult conditions.

"He did very well."