The new IRC 'Supporter Event Scheme' was launched this weekend at the Rallye du Valais, the eighth round in the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The scheme will allow rallies all over the world to sign up to become an official 'IRC Supporter Event'.

Speaking at the press conference on Friday, Jacques Behar, the president of Eurosport Events, which promotes the IRC, explained that the scheme will help increase the status of events running as part of the IRC.

"After just eight months of existence, the Intercontinental Rally Challenge has a strong presence in the world of international rallying, and many event organisers have expressed a firm interest in the series. By launching this initiative we aim to get to know these partner rallies better, make them better known, and share with them the values that characterise the events on the IRC calendar," he explained.

So far, two events have already confirmed their participation in the scheme - namely: the Sata Azores Rally in Portugal and the Lapland Arctic Rally in Finland.

The scheme has been established in collaboration with tyre firm BFGoodrich, which has set up the 'IRC Supporter BFGoodrich Challenge' especially for this new initiative - in order to reward drivers running on BFGoodrich tyres on the events.

"Rallying in general - and the IRC in particular - is very important to BFGoodrich, as it is a sport that shares our values. We are delighted to be able to support competitors, teams and organisers through this challenge," added Frederic-Henry Biabaud, competitions director for the Michelin Group.

Regulations for the 'IRC Supporter Event Challenge' will be revealed in due course.