Russell Brookes, Jimmy McRae, Kenny McKinstry and Donie Keating are among the entrants in the Classic section, and their presence is certain to attract the crowds to the stages around south Tipperary.
Brookes, who won the Irish Tarmac series in 1989, will drive the “Andrews Heat for Hire” Talbot Sunbeam. He has competed in Killarney in recent years and will be co-driven by Limerick’s Sean Mullally.
Seven-time Circuit of Ireland winner Jimmy McRae will have local co-driver Mickey Joe Morrissey on the notes on board the ex-Robert Droogmans Mk2 Ford Escort.
The Scot remains a formidable opponent and his battle with Kenny McKinstry, who will drive an ex-Ari Vatanen RS 1800, is widely anticipated.
Local hero Keating also has a Mk 2 Escort at his disposal; the Cahir ace was hugely popular in the 1980s, whether it was driving a Ford Escort or the DTV Chevette. However, he never enjoyed any luck in the Tarmac series, particularly on the Cork “20”, an event he led several times but never actually won.
Unlike the other trio, Keating hasn’t rallied in recent times. The London/Sahara marathon, in a VW Polo, was his last outing, here at home, he won the National Championship in 1991, campaigning both an Opel Ascona and a Metro 6R4 on his way to success, he also won the series 10 years earlier.
“My last outing was in the VW Polo in the London/Sahara, but that was very different, it was tough through the 22 days. Sunday will be a bit of fun, I don’t know what to expect, but I suppose when I get behind the wheel I will have to kick on,” said Keating.
McKinstry, fresh from his victory in the Down Forest Rally, will certainly be match fit for the occasion and he too will evoke many memories from that special era of Irish rallying.
In the Historic category, Irish champion Ray Cunningham (Mini Cooper) will again be the benchmark for the likes of John Keatley (Porsche), Tom Lawlor (Cortina) and Colm Hynes (Cortina). Kilkenny’s Seamus Anderson will drive a Ford Anglia.
In the Post Historic section, Cork driver, Mark Falvey (Ford Escort) and Frank Cunningham (Ford Escort), who has travelled from Boston to compete in the eight-stage event, will have Escort duo, Brian Lawlor and James Power and local driver, John Hackett (Mini) as opposition.
The ceremonial start outside rally headquarters, the Carraig Hotel, Carrick-on-Suir is scheduled for 7.30pm tomorrow and will be followed by a rally forum at 9pm. The first stage at Clonea begins at 9.13am on Sunday morning, the remaining stages of the loop are at Mahon Falls and Rathgormack. Servicing is at the Millriver Business Park, Carrick on Suir after stages three and six.
CORK co-driver, David Moynihan competing with Dutch ace, Kevin Abbring (Renault Clio) in the Rallye International Du Valais in Switzerland, lie in 18th position after yesterday’s four stages. Luca Rossetti (Fiat Punto) leads the event.
The eight drivers, selected for the interview process for the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award have been announced. They are: Mark Wedlock (Cavan), who qualified as the highest placed driver in the overall standings of the Dunlop National Rally Championship; Michael Carbin (Monaghan), who was the second highest placed driver in the series; Ian Downey ( Dublin), who qualified as the highest placed driver in the National Forest Rally Championship and Tom Murphy (Cork), the second highest placed driver in the same series; Darren McKenna (Monaghan), who won the Junior category of the Dunlop National Rally Championship. Meanwhile, the three wildcard nominations are: Robert Barrable (Dublin); Damien McCarthy (Cork) and Kevin O’Connor (Limerick).
The eight nominees will be interviewed on Tuesday November 16th. when the group will be short listed to just three drivers.
The Billy Coleman Award is supported by the Irish Sports Council (ISC) and Motorsport Ireland’s affiliated rally organising motor clubs and carries a first prize of €50,000 to help further the winning driver’s motor sport career.
The winner will be announced at the Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards lunch on December 7 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry. Earlier this week, Patrick McKenna (23) was selected as the winner of the 2010 Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year award, completing back to back titles for the Swords driver, who beat five others to the coveted award.