Iliev claimed victory in Sliven last season in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, while first place for Donchev this year would mark the first for a Peugeot 207 S2000 in the IRC in 2012. However, both will have to fend off the threat posed by Yağiz Avci, who scored his maiden IRC win on the previous round in Ukraine at the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. Petar Gyoshev is another Peugeot 207 driver in action in Sliven.
IRC Production Cup
Having climbed to within touching distance of title leader Andreas Aigner with IRC Production Cup victory in Ukraine, Renault Mégane RS driver Robert Consani will be aiming to make more progress in Bulgaria, particularly with Aigner not nominating the Sliven event as one of his scheduled appearances in 2012. Marco Tempestini also impressed on the previous round in Yalta with third place in class in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI. Like Consani, the Romanian will be in contention for the win. Local driver Plamen Staykov will be a contender in his R4-specification Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer, while Todor Slavov will also be capable of mounting a challenge for top spot providing he can complete his deal to drive a Renault Mégane RS, which is eligible for IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup points.
IRC 2WD Cup
After skipping the last two rounds in Czech Republic and Ukraine, 2010 IRC 2WD Cup winner Harry Hunt is back in action for his Sliven Rally debut. The Briton tops the standings in his Citroën DS3 R3T and will be expecting strong opposition from Robert Consani – who is eligible for IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup points – and Estonian Martin Kangur in a Honda Civic Type R. Bulgarian Renault pilot Todor Slavov will be among the favourites for class victory, while Ekaterina Stratieva is the IRC’s leading female driver and will impress on home soil. Other drivers to watch include Turkey’s Murat Bustanci, in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2, Romanian Vlad Cosma and Hungarian Renault Clio R3 ace Menya Krózser.