Craig Breen aims to slide into contention in opener
Austria is a great place to spend the start of the new year but skiing and snowboarding are not on Craig Breen's agenda this weekend.
Instead it is where he will begin his quest to win the European rally championship.
The roads around Linz will be just as icy and slippery as any downhill ski run but the International Jannerrallye is where the Peugeot Academy team have chosen for Breen to start a championship campaign which will see him compete all over Europe from Latvia to the Azores as well as his home round, the Circuit of Ireland at Easter.
Disappointed to have 'only' finished third in the 2014 series after scoring his first big victory in the classic Acropolis Rally in Greece, Breen is happy with the early start to a season which will also see him take in seven World championship rounds including this month's Monte Carlo Rally.
"It is good to get my season up and running so early, especially with the Monte Carlo Rally coming up in three weeks' time," said the former World S2000 champion.
"But the ERC is my priority and I want to get a good start even if snow and ice wouldn't be my most familiar road conditions."
Reigning ERC champion Esapekka Lappi, the Circuit of Ireland winner, is absent from the Janner entry list but the line-up includes Rally Poland winner Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Robert Consani and Jean-Michel Raoux from France, Russia's Alexey Lukyanuk, Czechs Václav Pech and Jaromír Tarabus, Swiss newcomer Jonathan Hirschiand and ERC Junior champion Stéphane Lefebvre.
Unusually, the rally starts on Sunday and finishes on Tuesday.