Andreas Mikkelsen will compete on the Barum Rally Zlin later this month in an Opel Corsa OPC Super 2000, as MSD and Hankook step up their programme in preparation for a full assault on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2010.
Testing is already well underway with the Opel Corsa OPC Super 2000 and the demanding asphalt roads in the Czech Republic, venue for the eighth round in this year's IRC, are set to provide a comprehensive challenge for the car with a mix of slow and technical sections and fast straights providing the perfect combination to gather further data.
Mikkelsen, who has already competed in 18 World Rally Championship events - his best result to date a fifth in Sweden last year, sees the move to a Super 2000 car as a great opportunity and he is looking forward to driving the Opel competitively.
Indeed his run in the Czech Republic will be his first in the IRC and his first with the Opel Corsa OPC S2000.
"The future of rallying at the top level will be with Super 2000 cars," said the 20-year-old, "and it will be good to be part of a team that is committed to this in the future."
Meanwhile MSD and Hankook have reiterated that they will take in three further IRC events after the Barum, with the Rally Principe de Asturias in Spain next up in September followed by Rally Sanremo two weeks later and then the RAC MSA Rally of Scotland in November.
"MSD has done tremendous development work on the Corsa and testing behind closed doors has show us that with the Hankook tyres we have a great package," stated Mike Patterson, Hankook motorsport manager.
"Competing on selected rounds which are part of the IRC this year will give us the added bonus of testing the car in competition conditions and assess every part of our plans for 2010.
"The mix of rallies chosen for 2009 will give the team valuable experience on both asphalt and gravel surfaces and ensure maximum opportunity for tyre development before the 2010 season gets underway."
David Whitehead, managing director of MSD, concurs that the 'test' events will be crucial ahead their full programme next year and he will want to see Mikkelsen get to the finish after Alex Bengue crashed out of the Ypres on the very first stage.
"Success at this level means many hours of development and we are fortunate to be able to contest selected rounds ahead of the full assault next year which should put us in a very competitive position," Whitehead summed-up.