With neither Sam Moffett or reigning champion Desi Henry amongst the entry – currently they are second and third respectively - it offers the trio of Adrian Hetherington, Jonny Leonard and Gerard Lucey an ideal opportunity to top the standings.
However, second seeds Derry’s Marty McCormack and Mallow co-driver David Moynihan are the favourites for victory. They were third overall on the Pirelli Rally and their Donegal outing is seen as more of a shakedown for next week’s Scottish Rally.
Tyrone driver Hetherington, fresh from his outing in last week’s Carlow Rally where he drove a Mk. 2 Escort and only lost out on victory by just three seconds reverts to his Toyota Corolla WRC for the forest series. He is equally adept on both surfaces and is best placed of the championship contenders to make up the nine points deficit to Josh Moffett. Cork’s Gerard Lucey, who has notched up a top-three finish in the last two seasons, is four points behind Hetherington. Fermanagh’s Jon Armstrong (Mitsubishi EvoX), who will be co-driven by Killarney’s Noel O Sullivan is capable of a top result as is another Fermanagh man, Jonny Leonard albeit in the older Mitsubishi Evo VI. The top ten also includes Jordan Hone (Mitsubishi), Enda McCormack (Subaru WRC), Darren McKelvey (Mitsubishi) and Patrick O’ Brien (Mitsubishi).
Monaghan’s Mickey Conlon (Escort) is the leading two-wheel drive competitor with opposition featuring David Crossan (Escort) and the ultra quick Shane McGirr (Toyota Starlet), who makes a welcome return. There are a total of eight stages – a double run over a three-stage loop and the 17-kilometre Tullynacarry stage that is repeated, servicing is in Donegal town.
In motor racing it’s another busy weekend for Cork racer Matt Griffin, who joins up with his Spirit of Race team mates Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott for the 4 Hours of Monza, the second round of the European Le Mans Series. The 5.793 kilometre Italian circuit is one of the fastest in the world and that should suit Griffin. It is the first time in nine years that the ELMS series will use the Monza circuit. Griffin and his team mates are currently fourth in the LMGTE category and they are certainly aiming for a podium spot as they bid to close the 14 points deficit to the Aston Martin V8 of category leaders Salic Yoluc, Eaun Hankey and Nicki Thiim.