Jennings and Boyle head Galway list but many big names out
Garry Jennings and Declan Boyle in their World Rally cars, winners in two of the past three years, head the entry list for the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, the Galway International on February 4/5.
But the line-up is as significant for who is missing as who is included. No Keith Cronin, no Desi Henry, no Marty McCormack and no Donagh Kelly, the winner in 2015.
Cronin, the reigning Tarmac champion, has been linked to a switch to the British Championship, possibly driving the R5 Ford Fiesta in which Elfyn Evans won the BRC title last season.
Henry and McCormack are also targeting the British series with their R5 Skoda Fabias and have forsaken the opportunity of an early outing in Galway even though the Tarmac Championship is also geared towards R5 cars.
Heading their challenge is Alastair Fisher who took Cronin to a last round shoot-out in Cork last season. He is seeded at No.3 with the Moffett brothers, Josh and Sam, at four and six, all in R5 Fiestas.
Sandwiched between them is reigning Irish national champion Roy White in his WRC Fiesta.
Joe McGonigle, Jonny Greer, Aaron MacHale, Brendan Cumiskey and Stephen McCann complete the top seeds, all in R5 cars.
Kelly was thought to be considering switching to an R5 car having tested a Fiesta before Christmas but is now expected to continue with his WRC Ford Focus in the Irish national series.
Meanwhile, the Ulster Rally, which will also be part of the Tarmac series in August, was again voted the best round of the 2016 British Championship and UK Motor Sports Association's Jonathan Day was in Armagh at the weekend to present the award to clerk of the course Gary Milligan during the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs' dinner.
As well as honouring all the 2016 Northern Ireland champions there was also a Lifetime Achievement Award for Bill Johnston and a Clubman of the Year Award for Noel Cochrane.
The ANICC's main Motorsport Award went to its former president Ronnie Trouton.