Four of the World Rally Championship's brightest young talents will go head-to-head on the latest round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge -- the Barum Rally -- which starts in the Czech Republic this evening.
Skoda driver Juho Hanninen leads the crews away and is looking to repeat his Rally Russia victory aboard the factory Fabia S2000. Hanninen came within an ace of winning the Production Car World Rally Championship title last season, losing out to Andeas Aigner on the final round.
Martin Prokop is the first driver to collect a world title this season, with the Czech Republic driver clinching the Junior award on Rally Finland earlier this month. Prokop will drive a Peugeot 207 S2000 on the Zlin-based event this week.
The other two top WRC talents are Andreas Mikkelsen (Opel Corsa S2000) and Evgeny Novikov (Skoda Fabia S2000). Mikkelsen, 20, was the revelation of last season, was the youngest driver ever to score points on a WRC round, when he finished fifth on the Swedish Rally. Eighteen-year-old Novikov eclipsed the Norwegian's record when he posted the same result on the Rally of Italy earlier this year.
Those four drivers will face the cream of the IRC series, with Britain's Kris Meeke driving his usual Peugeot 207 S2000 and Italian marque Abarth represented by Giando Basso and Luca Rossetti.
The latest IRC round starts from Zlin this evening and finishes, 15 stages later, on Sunday afternoon.