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The Safari Rally will return to international championship status next year when it joins the calendar of the burgeoning International Rally Championship series, promoted by Eurosport, the European TV networkd.

The series is set to announce a new eight round calendar for 2007 after this year's 4-event trial  championship. Events in Belgium, Italy, Madeira, Russia, Turkey, Britain and Switzerland are believed to be the others set to join the Safari.

Eight manufacturers expressed an interest in the series at a meeting in Paris last week, including Fiat and Peugeot, the two manufacturers with official S2000 cars currently running. The championship is open to all cars except World Rally Cars.

Eurosport have promised live coverage for the series as well as in-car and helicopter footage.

Fiat driver Giandomenico Basso leads the inaugural championship after two of four rounds to be held this season.

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