The Intercontinental Rally Challenge enters the second half of it’s 2010 season this weekend, as the crews visit the mid-Atlantic island group of the Azores, to compete in the second successive running of Rally Azores as a championship round of the IRC.
A combination of tight and twisty roads, and a predominantly gravel surface, make the trip to the Azores demanding for drivers, co-driver and crews alike.
However, this years route sees the addition of some asphalt sections, which when attacked with gravel specification cars will provide spectators with some great excitement, and drivers with the need to stay alert throughout.
As the championship stands prior to the event, Juho Hanninen leads the overall standings with 42-points. The Finnish driver is the only in the field to have two IRC victories to his name in 2010.
Keeping him honest is Czech driver Jan KopeckÃ½, who is a mere 3-points adrift of Hanninen.
Guy Wilks can boast to be best of the Brits, he sits third in the standings, on 25-points.
Last years IRC series champion, Kris Meeke has amassed only 15-points from 6 events this year, and lies fifth in the standings.
The Northern Irishman tasted victory at Rally Azores in 2009, claiming what was his second IRC win, and would eventually propel him to claim the championship at the season end.
In the two-wheel drive cup standings Pierre Campana leads the way on 16-points, despite not having claimed a victory, to-date, this season.
Campana lies ahead of an intense, 6-way, battle for second in the standings, with Marcos Tokarski, Kris Princen, Rafael Tulio, Yeray Lewes, Kevin Abbring and Harry Hunt all tied on 10-points
With the close nature of both championships, as well as the nature of the rally itself, and not forgetting to factor in the rather unpredictable weather in the region, Rally Azores will be one to watch.