Killarney and District Motor Club will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rentokil-Initial Killarney Historic Rally in style on Saturday.
A record 160 cars will start the six-stage event, the only rally in Ireland dedicated to historic machinery.
The top seeds are World Rally Championship stars Craig Breen and Paul Nagle in a BMW M3. It will be a busy week for the Irish crew who are preparing for the 2022 WRC season with M-Sport Ford.
Earlier this week they were in the Gap region of France testing their new Ford Puma for the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally in January.
They are expected back in Ireland late on Thursday night ahead of their Friday recce and pre-event test in the BMW that has been hired from The Netherlands especially for the rally.
“I am counting down the days to the Rentokil initial Killarney Historic Rally,” said Breen. “I am really, really looking forward to it, especially going there with such an iconic car like a BMW M3.”
Breen and Nagle’s chief opposition will come from newly crowned Northern Ireland Rally Champion Jonny Greer and his Welsh co-driver Dai Roberts in a Ford Sierra Cosworth.
The number one slot on the door panel has been left blank in memory of two club stalwarts, Johnny Hickey and Mike Falvey who passed away earlier this year.
Two former winners of the event, Denis Moynihan and Mark Falvey start at four and five in their Ford Escort Mk1s.
Local driver Alan Ring and his West Cork navigator Adrian Deasy start at six in their third outing in their newly restored, ex-works, Subaru Legacy.
The battle for honours in the keenly contested Modified section is likely to be an all-local “affair.
The top seed in this section is Killarney’s Colin O’Donoghue and his Glenflesk co-driver Kieran O’Donoghue. The defending modified champions made history in Belgium in September by winning the Escort Rally Special in Chimay.
Rob Duggan and Ger Conway won the overall historic title in 2019 but are entered in the modified section on this occasion.
Throughout various lockdowns, the Aghadoe man built a new Ford Escort Mk2. They gave it a shakedown on the Kerry Winter Rally earlier this month but withdrew after a few stages due to brake and exhaust issues.