Giandomenico Basso will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this year - a series where he has clinched four impressive victories to date - starting from the legendary Tour de Corse from 9-12 May.

The 38-year-old former European and Italian champion has secured a deal with Italy's A-Style team to drive a Ford Fiesta S2000 on a selected programme of events, co-driven as always by fellow Italian Mitia Dotta.

Under the IRC regulations, Basso will be eligible to score points for Ford through M-Sport, which is a registered IRC manufacturer.

Basso, who won the inaugural IRC pilot series in 2006, said: "I'm absolutely delighted by this fantastic opportunity to return to international competition. I'd like to thank the A-Style team for the faith that they have placed in me: I've always loved the IRC and international competition and I feel more motivated than ever by this fantastic new challenge.

"The Fiesta is going to be a brand new experience for me and I cannot wait to test it as soon as possible. My aim is to work together with the team so that we can fight on equal terms with the people at the very top. It's an ambitious goal of course, but that is why we are here."

The details of Basso's exact programme will be finalised later on in the year, with further sponsorship being sought to extend the schedule of events - which is expected to take in the IRC rounds in Italy and San Marino as well.

A-Style team principal Fabrizio Butti added: "This is a really important deal for us as it re-launches the hopes of Italy at the top of an important international series like the IRC: a championship that is still young but benefits from a huge amount of visibility through the incredible coverage on Eurosport."

Basso - a long-time Abarth factory driver - clinched the European Rally Championship in 2006 and 2009, together with Dotta. He also claimed the Italian title in 2007. As well as the Grande Punto S2000, Basso also has experience of Super 2000 cars from Peugeot and Proton.



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