An impressive line-up of 49 crews will contest the first International Rally Challenge event to be held on the Azores islands.

Sata Rally Azores, which takes place from May 7-9, is the fourth round of the IRC. Of the registered drivers, twelve will compete in Super 2000 machinery, including Freddy Loix, who heads the IRC drivers' standings after three events.

Juho Hanninen, who led the opening IRC event of the season in Monte Carlo, will carry number one on the side of his factory Skoda Fabia S2000 although he will start further down the order when the competitors are allocated their seeded positions based on their performances in the IRC this year and other results.

Hanninen's team-mate Jan Kopecky is also entered for the event, which marks the second appearance of the season by the Czech manufacturer.

Anton Alen and Giandomenico Basso will represent Abarth in two factory Grande Puntos, while Bernardo Sousa will appear in a semi-works machine.

Freddy Loix, Bruno Magalhaes, Kris Meeke, Vitor Pascoal, Nicolas Vouilloz and newcomer Conrad Rautenbach will drive the six Peugeot 207 S2000s on the entry. Magalhaes won Rally Azores last season.

Portuguese drivers Ricardo Moura and Fernando Peres will lead the Ralliart effort in a pair of Lancer Evo IXs. The talented Austrian Franz Wittmann Jr will also be at the wheel of a Lancer.

Julien Maurin will drive the sole Volkswagen Polo S2000 on the entry, while Manuel Villa returns to the 2WD Cup in a Fiat Punto S1600 where he will compete against Denis Millet in a Peugeot 207 RC Rallye.

The event begins with a superspecial stage on the evening of Thursday May 7. The final stage is due to start on the evening of Saturday May 9. There will be a total of 18 stages with a combined competitive distance of 229.86 kilometres.