Tralee based co-driver Mark Kane will make his European rally debut on Sunday when he tackles Rally di Alba in Italy alongside Phillip Allen.
They will drive a Hyundai i20 R5 on the nine-stage rally which gets underway at 8am Irish time on Sunday morning.
The rally, based in the historic town of Alba, just over 100km south of either Milan or Turin, has benefited from the influence of Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo. It is his home event and he has used his worldwide Hyundai contacts to bring some of the best drivers of the Korean brand to the rally.
Entries include World Rally Championship stars Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak who will drive current-spec WRC cars.
Several other prominent international names including Craig Breen (and his Killarney co-driver Paul Nagle) Dani Sordo, Ole Christian Veiby, Grégoire Munster and Jari Huttunen are entered in R5 variants of the i20.
Allen and Kane are frontrunners in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship which helped them secure an entry for what has become a Hyundai showcase in Italy for Adamo.
Other Irish drivers entered include Josh Moffatt, Callum Devine and Josh McErlean who will all drive Hyundai R5s.
In total there are 20 Hyundais contesting the rally including entries from five Italian crews running in the i20 R5. The group will be headed by Luca Rossetti – R5 class winner at the Monza Rally Show in 2018 and Andrea Nucita who took top prize in the R5 Trophy at the same event last year.
“Rally di Alba will have the largest group of Hyundai i20 R5 – and by extension – Hyundai Motorsport-built cars ever gathered for a single rally,” said Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Operations Leader Andrew Johns.
Alba is also the hometown of chocolate maker Ferrero, manufacturer of household names like Nutella, Kinder Surprise and TicTac mints.