Skoda UK Motorsport has confirmed Andreas Mikkelsen's schedule of Intercontinental Rally Challenge events in 2011.

The 21-year-old will tackle all the remaining rounds of the Eurosport-backed series with the exception of Rali Vinho Madeira, which forms round seven from 4-6 August. IRC regulations allow crews to count their best seven scores during the season and while Mikkelsen insists he relishes driving on tarmac, his team has chosen to skip the asphalt-based island rally.

"I learned a lot about asphalt rallies when I did rounds of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in 2007, and since then I've had some good results on asphalt in both the IRC and the WRC," said Mikkelsen, who posted an early retirement on last month's Rallye Monte Carlo after damaging his Fabia S2000's suspension.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the number of runners competing in a Fabia S2000, like Mikkelsen, has increased following confirmation last week that Skoda Sweden will back Patrik Sandell's seven-round IRC programme.

News of Skoda Sweden's support of Sandell represents one of the biggest undertakings by the countries importer in recent years. It also brings the total number of car importers actively engaged in a major IRC campaign this season to eight.

"Skoda celebrates 110 years in motorsport this year so there's a long tradition and lots of experience behind this venture," said Henrik Svensson, Skoda Sweden's press manager. "It will be very exciting to follow Patrik and [co-driver] Staffan [Parmander] this season and if they succeed this year the future could be very interesting."

Sandell will begin his IRC bid in his JM Racing-run car on the Tour de Corse, which runs from 13-15 May.



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