National champions from Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania are among the drivers who have signed up for the opening round of the new-look FIA European Rally Championship.
Jan Kopecký, the Czech champion in 2012, heads the entry for International Jännerrallye in his Skoda Fabia Super 2000 with French legend François Delecour, the winner of the Romanian national championship this year, seeded third in a Peugeot 207 S2000.
Raimund Baumschlager, who claimed yet another Austrian crown in 2012, will compete in a Fabia with Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who secured a third consecutive Polish title during the season just gone, taking part in a Subaru Impreza R4 STI.
Other notable names taking part include former Rallye Monte-Carlo winner Bryan Bouffier, 2011 IRC 2WD Cup champion Jean-Michel Raoux, leading Czech drivers Vaclav Pech, Antonin Tlusťák and Pavel Valoušek, plus former world rally champion Stig Blomqvist in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
Former F1 racer Robert Kubica isn't on the list despite rumours he was going to compete in the ERC this season in a Ford Fiesta.
“The entry list for the new-look FIA European Rally Championship in 2013 is building up day by day and some of the drivers that were not able to be ready for the Jännerrallye due to the early start to the season will join in Latvia or the Canary Islands,” said ERC General Co-ordinator Jean-Pierre Nicolas.
“We are delighted the first round of the ERC has attracted such a strong entry and congratulations to the event organisers for their efforts. The entry features a perfect blend of established stars and rising talents and we look forward to some serious competition ahead in Austria in January.”
A total of 63 crews have entered the main international event, which features 18 special stages over a competitive distance of 248.46 kilometres and will run from 3-5 January.