Juho Hanninen has said he will start Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles next month convinced he can win the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.

The defending IRC champion has never won a round of the IRC on asphalt before but impressed with his pace when the event made its IRC debut last season. Despite his lack of tarmac running at the time, Hanninen finished a scant 9.1s adrift of Skoda Motorsport team-mate and event winner Jan Kopecky, a recognised sealed-surface specialist.

Although the Finn's participation on the Gran Canaria rally has yet to be officially confirmed by Skoda, Hanninen's name appears on the provisional entry list alongside long-term co-driver Mikko Markkula.

"Of course I can win, I believe I can win but it won't be so easy," said the 29-year-old. "The stages there are nice but not so difficult, a bit like a racing circuit, so there will be very little difference between the top drivers.

"That means it will be a tough fight because I know there will be a lot of good drivers who will be very fast."

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