An IRC retrospective in pictures


 The Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) came into being in 2006 as an alternative international rally competition for car manufacturers, drivers and events.  Its final rally was held in Cyprus in 2012 as the IRC will merge with the European Rally Championship for 2013.  During its short time, the IRC made a splash.  Using S2000 cars, manufacturers such as Peugeot, Skoda and Fiat all joined the game.  They held rallies in Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, along with a plethora of European events – including the Monte Carlo Rally.

The IRC experienced much of its success when the WRC was imploding due to spiraling costs and unpopular sporting and business decisions.  Impacted by the financial crisis and the expense of travel, the IRC became a European only championship in 2012.

As the Championship comes to a close, we look back over its history.


Giandomenico Basso in a Fiat Punto S2000 won the first IRC Championship in 2006.  Following from him, Peugeot won three titles and Skoda won three titles (Photo: Abarth)


The IRC also embraced the production rally cars and brought international rallying to Eastern Europe, like here in Romania (Photo: Subaru)


The IRC cars ran a S2000 specification.  The S2000 was a cost controlled formula using production based cars with 2000cc engines, limited to 8500rpm.  There were 12 different S2000 rally cars made, though only four had success in the IRC (Photo: Skoda)


The crowds came out to watch the S2000 cars, which had a great sound, when compared to the WRC cars at the time (Photo: Skoda)


The IRC gathered a global field of drivers, making stars of their own rather than relying on poaching drivers from the WRC (Photo: IRC)


Rallying at night, mixed surfaces and longer stages all featured in the IRC – making it an attractive proposition for the traditional rally fan. (Photo: Peugeot)


The first IRC season in 2007 saw great support from Fiat and Peugeot.  Soon Skoda would join the two as the committed manufacturers (Photo: Peugeot)


The IRC took rallying back to some of its traditional venues like the Safari Rally, though it was cancelled one year as it was too expensive and too much of a car breaker for the S2000 cars (Photo: Abarth)


The IRC did try to make the international rallying work, holding rounds in South America, though in later years, the IRC became Euro-centric (Photo: Subaru)


Super special stages were held in spectator friendly zones.  Along with being kind to spectators, Eurosport were kind to the TV fans with innovative coverage including live stages and webcast television (Photo: Peugeot)


The fans were granted close access to the cars – in an attempt to return the sport to the fans without having to sanitise the sport too much (Photo: Abarth)


The IRC promoted many rally events that have a long history outside the WRC – like here in Ypres (Photo: Peugeot)


The UK got another international rally with Rally Scotland providing some great backdrops (Photo: Subaru)


The IRC featured many different types of road surfaces, embracing tarmac just as the WRC tried to shy away (Photo: Peugeot)


IRC tended to bring the rallying to the people, running through historic locations, rather than running on short, repeated stages (Photo: Skoda)


The IRC seemed to focus on having some idyllic locations to rally through, making for some great pictures (Photo: Skoda)


he IRC took the Monte Carlo rally and provided a different spectacle.  Indeed, M-Sport created a car so that they could compete on the event after the IRC took it over (Photo: Subaru)


After the Monte Carlo rally organisers got fed up with the WRC and their attempts to sanitise the event, the IRC ran the rally with record entries (Photo: Abarth)


Skoda found more success with their S2000 car than they did in their WRC outings (Photo: Skoda)


Peugeot were great supporters of the IRC – perhaps unsurprising as the former Peugeot Sport manager headed the IRC.  Argentina is a rally mad country and hosted the IRC (Photo: Peugeot)


The S2000 cars could handle the Safari though, with the Abarth Punto taking it out.  The cars needed some toughening for the event (Photo: Abarth)


Skoda would come to dominate in the later years of the IRC as the offerings from Fiat and Peugeot aged (Photo: Skoda)


M-Sport also entered the IRC with a private Ford Fiesta S2000.  The car was extremely competitive, winning the IRC’s final event in Cyprus (Photo: IRC)


The Peugeot 208 will feature in the revised ERC after the completion of the IRC (Photo: Peugeot)


Nasser Al-Attiyah (pictured) was the final IRC winner,  Alister McRae was the first IRC Rally winner in 2006 at the Rally Zulu (Photo: IRC)

Photos: Supplied.

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