Former Peugeot and Ford works driver, Markko Martin will contest the 2006 PT-Rally de Portugal next weekend, two months after saying he thought it was unlikely he would ever enter a WRC event again in the 'near future'.

Although Portugal is not a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, it is one of eight WRC candidate events taking place this year.

The Portuguese event will be Martin's first official event back behind the wheel of a rally car, after his accident on the Rally GB last September. Martin has not contested a rally since his crash in Wales, which claimed the life of his co-driver, Michael Park. The news follows the announcement on Thursday that he will compete in the Danish TouringCar Championship this year, driving a Honda Accord Euro-R.

Martin, who will be partnered by Alister McRae's former long term co-driver, David Senior, will be joined on the event by a number of WRC regulars, including 2005 winner, Daniel Carlsson, as well as young Finn Janne Tuohino. Sweden's Patrik Flodin and Martin's young protege, Martin Rauam will also compete, all at the wheel of identical Group N Subaru Imprezas.

Upholding the local honours meanwhile will be 2005 third-placed driver, Armindo Araujo in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8, as well as Fernando Peres in similar machinery and Miguel Campos in the Subaru Impreza WRX. In the two-wheel drive category, Junior WRC regular Urmo Aava will be at the wheel of the Suzuki Swift S1600. However, he will face stiff competition from the local Renault and Peugeot works drivers, Jose Pedro Fontes and Bruno Magalhaes, respectively.

WRC regular and 2005 event S1600 winner Dani Sordo will be in Portugal again, this time driving the '0' car, a Citroen Xsara World Rally Car. His job will be two-fold: check the stages for safety prior to the field starting and validating the stages themselves at World Rally Car speeds for future reference.

The event begins with a ceremonial start for the 74 car field on the evening of Thursday March 16 at the Vilamoura Marina, before two full days of action over the stages to the north of Faro. The crews then return to the finish, at the impressive Algarve Stadium, which hosts the service park, on Saturday afternoon, at 17.45 [local time].

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