Next year's FIA European Rally Championship will get off to a spectacular start if the stages of the J?nnerrallye are anything to go by according to series general co-ordinator Jean-Pierre Nicolas.

Nicolas, a former international-level rally winner, completed a drive through the Austrian event's stages earlier this week ahead of the event, which will be the opening round of the new ERC season.

The 30th running of the rally will launch the new-look series from 3-5 January 2013 and Nicolas says the stages will provide the perfect setting for the season opener, which took place in snowy and icy conditions when it appeared on the ERC schedule for the first time earlier this year.

"Quite simply the stages are beautiful," he said. "The scenery is spectacular, the stages are great for the drivers, they are smooth, they are not bumpy at all and there is plenty of wide open areas to go through.

"There is definitely some serious competition ahead."

Entries for the event close on 15 December.

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