Portuguese driver Bernardo Sousa has confirmed he will take part on two rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season, driving an Abarth Grande Punto run by the Italian Procar Rally Team.

The 21-year old, who was born on the Portuguese governed island of Madeira, is also contesting the Production Car World Rally Championship in the Italian-built machine, but expects his IRC programme to include the rallies in Azores in May and Madeira at the end of July.

"He showed last year a considerable level of performance and it is a very important agreement we have defined," a spokesperson for the Procar team said.

Sousa has contested the Sata Rally Azores on two previous occasions, but has twice failed to finish. Nevertheless, he has described the event as one of the best on the international calendar, despite the traditional rivalry that exists between Madeira and the Azores, another Portuguese territory.

"I love the rally," Sousa admitted, "The roads are in very good condition but, in some places, they are narrow - with a lot of rocks. What is the most impressive is the countryside. It is beautiful and also very peaceful."

The event will begin with a shakedown on Thursday 7 May, with two competitive legs taking place on the following Friday and Saturday.

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