Rallying is returning to County Kerry after a two-year break.
This weekend Kerry Motor Club will host its Kerry Winter Rally, the first such event to run in the county since 2019.
Based at the Banna Beach Resort and with stages in the Ballymac and Lyreacrompane area, motorsport fans are in for a treat.
A total of 140 cars will leave the start line at Banna on Sunday morning, among them seven former winners of the event.
Leading the field away will be Cavan man Gary Kiernan, the defending champion, who will make his debut in a Ford Fiesta R5.
“I am looking forward to it, it is always a good rally and good atmosphere down there,” he said
“I want to see if I like the R5 – the simplest option was to hire one – and see if I liked it, but I don’t expect to be on the pace, it will be a big learning curve,” he added.
“I will be doing my own rally, I won’t be paying much heed to others around me, who knows? I could be a lot happier in my Escort so let’s wait and see.”
Daniel Cronin, a double winner in 2014 and 2016 will steer his similar Fiesta on the six-stage event.
Other potential winners include Sam Moffett (Hyundai i20) and Donagh Kelly (Volkswagen Polo) – the latter a former double winner of the Circuit of Kerry.
Local hero, Mike Quinn, winner in 2013 will drive his usual Ford Escort Mk2 on the rally which gets under way around 9am on Sunday morning.
Killarney and District Motor Club is represented by Colin O’Donoghue who won a rally in Belgium earlier this year and Rob Duggan who mill make his debut in a newly built Ford Escort.
Behind Quinn sits a line of very fast Kerry drivers and they include former event winner Kevin O’Donoghue in his BMW M3, Vincent O’Shea (Darrian), Tadgh O’Sullivan, Aidan Buckley and Eoin Duffin all drive Ford Escorts.
A brace of Subaru Legacy(s) will also take part in the hands of former champions. Castleisland’s Alan Ring will drive his recently restored Group A version, 11 years after he won the event.
Ray Breen, father of current World Rally Championship star Craig, the winner way back in 1996, will drive a similar machine to Ring’s.
Denis Cronin will mark his 40th year in the sport on the Killarney Historic Rally later this month, will compete in a historic-specification Ford Escort. He won the rally in 1995 driving a BMW M3.
The rally is a counting round of the Moriarty’s Centre Kingdom of Kerry Rally series and defending champion Darren Young has entered in his Honda Civic and former champion Sean Hickey in a Toyota Starlet.
While not competing, local driver Brendan Brosnan will drive the 003 Safety Car – he won the rally in 1986.
New for this year is the addition of a shakedown stage which will run on Saturday afternoon and give drivers a chance to get back into the swing of things after the long break.
Programmes are on sale in various locations near the rally route including Banna Beach Hotel, Horgan’s Centra, Ardfert and Moriarty’s Centra Farranfore.