Defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen says he is looking forward to the defence of his title in 2012 as he seeks to become the first driver to take back-to-back championship crowns.

The Skoda UK driver wrapped up the 2011 title on the season finale in November, beating Jan Kopecky to the crown after the season ending Cyprus Rally.

The Norwegian driver will now aim to defend the title through an extended schedule of 13 events, with four new additions to the IRC during the year ahead.

Having been successful on a number of those new rallies in the past, Mikkelsen admits he is confident about the year ahead.

"There are a lot of rallies that I know, plus four new events," he said. "The new round in Ireland will suit me very well, because I've done some rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and also the WRC event over there before. I've not done these actual Circuit of Ireland stages, but I know the nature of the roads and know what to look for in terms of set-up of the car, so I think Ireland will be a really strong event for us.

"San Marino is in, and I won that rally last year in the Italian Gravel Championship, so that will be another strong event for us.

"The other two new rounds in Romania and Bulgaria I don't know and I'm not sure what to expect, but we've performed well in the past on rallies we've never done before and we're confident there are a lot of strong rallies on next year's calendar for us."


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