Champion John Reid (Toyota Corolla WRC) is the top seed for the eight-stage rally, co-sponsored by Lismore House Hotel and Monplate Signs, that will split its stages between Tallow and Cappoquin.
Reid made a hasty exit from the last round in Carrick-on-Suir, when he retired due to illness, and needs a top result to revive his championship ambitions.
Murphy, in his Mitsubishi Evo9, had the perfect start to the series, a late victory on the opening round was followed by a calculated drive in the second round. Now, consistency needs to be a major part of his plan.
The Munster Car Club organisers have assembled a strong entry that also includes Ian Cochrane (Mitsubishi), Jeremy Drislane (Subaru WRC), Martin Cairns (Subaru), Vincent McAree (Mitsubishi), Liam Ryan (Mitsubishi) and Craig Breen (Fiesta).
Drislane can reflect on what might have been were it nor for a spin in the last round in Carrick; Cairns or Cochrane cannot be discounted either, while both McAree and Ryan impressed in Carrick.
Breen continues a busy year as he reverts to his own Fiesta R2 to boost his participation in the Academy WRC.
The remainder of the top 10 is occupied by Stephen Wright (Mitsubishi) and Shane McGirr (Toyota Starlet).
James Coleman (Escort) is the top seeded two-wheel drive competitor and is pitted against Viv Hamill (Escort), Michael Cuddihy (Toyota Starlet) and Shay Power (Escort). Bob Scanlon, Patrick Keenan and Gerard Lucey are all in Mitsubishis.
In terms of the championship, Murphy (42 points) is seven ahead of McAree with Ryan two points further behind, with Reid 22 points off the lead.
In the two-wheel drive category, McGirr shares the lead with Paul Fitzgerald.
The morning’s action is over stages at Knockaun & Lyre Kilcalf that are repeated before the action switches to Cappoquin for the Coolatoor & Scart Mountain stages, also repeated. The service halts will be in Tallow and Cappoquin. First car away is at 8.55am with the finish in Lismore at 5pm.
Meanwhile, Motorsport Ireland has announced that no prohibited substances or prohibited methods were identified in the tests carried out on four drivers by the Irish Sports Council at the Tipperary Forestry Rally.
The new Mondello Park Sports Club are organising their first car racing event on Sunday at the County Kildare track, although some paperwork has yet to be concluded concerning its affiliated status to Motorsport Ireland.
Strong grids are lined up in both the Formula Libre and Irish Touring Car Championship events, while there will be a single Formula Vee championship race. The 11-race programme starts at 11.25am.
Back in Cork on Sunday, the fastest rider in Irish drag racing, Bernard Dorgan, will compete in Sunday’s West Cork MCC Drag Race at the Halfway near Ballinhassig. The Togher rider, who clocked 192mph in Britain last season, will be onboard his Suzuki Hyabusa Street Bike. Other local riders in action are Ted Brady (Yamaha), Eddie Galvin (Suzuki) and Eibhlín Ni Luineachain (Yamaha).
The MINI John Cooper Works rally car gained its first victory in last weekend’s Rally dell’Adriatico in Italy as Andrea Navarra, piloting a works S2000, finished 12.6 seconds ahead of Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda Fabia S2000).
Motorsport Ireland has announced that the Phoenix Park Motor Races, scheduled for the Dublin venue in August have been cancelled due to the economic situation.
This year’s Cork Motor Fest will take place on May 14 and 15 at the Corrin Event Centre near Fermoy.
The two-day event, that will run from noon to 6pm each day, will feature modern, classic and sports vehicles, trade stands, a live action arena, kart racing and much more. Further details are available by visiting www.corkmotorfest.com