Intercontinental Rally Challenge bosses are promising another exciting addition to the all-action series when Rally San Marino hosts a round of the IRC for the first time in early July.

The second of four gravel rallies on the IRC schedule this year, Rally San Marino forms round seven of the 13-event calendar and features a competitive distance of 192 kilometres. IRC motorsport development manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas joined IRC commercial director Antonello Lodoletti on a fact-finding mission to San Marino earlier this year. and left highly impressed.

"I've seen the stages and I can tell that San Marino is going to be a fantastic rally," Nicolas said, "The stages are medium-speed and very flowing, through classic Italian countryside - the drivers are going to love it.

"The roads are a real pleasure to drive, on extremely compact gravel that is not rough at all, but the important thing will be to find a good rhythm, with an average speed of around 95-100kph on the stages. The route is also very compact, with the most distant stage being just 60 kilometres from the city centre. I think all the ingredients are there for a really memorable event."

Rally San Marino will be based in the republic's capital San Marino City, with the stages taking place over the border in Italy and in San Marino itself. Following the shakedown and the ceremonial start on Thursday 5 July, the action begins on Friday with two runs over a 20-kilometre stage and two passes of a 25-kilometre test before a street stage in San Marino City brings the action to a close. Saturday's route features a seven-kilometre and a 16-kilometre stage both run three times, plus a 14-kilometre stage used twice.

Defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen took part on the event last season when it counted as a round of the Trofeo Rally Terra, the Italian Gravel Trophy, and claimed victory in a ?koda Fabia Super 2000, similar to the one he will use on this year's rally.

"From doing this rally last year, I remember the stages to be fast in some places but also twisty with a hard surface," he recalled, "The nature is beautiful so it's a really nice rally to go to."

Multiple event-winner Paolo Andreucci is also a big fan of the rally and holds the event organiser FAMS in high regard.

"I love Rally San Marino and have always had a very good feeling there," he admitted, "It's a classic gravel rally - really fun to drive. The San Marino federation is an excellent organising body, which is a huge supporter of rallying with a fantastic history in the sport, so it's sure to be a very well-organised and popular event - this is guaranteed."

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