Derek McGarrity is looking to outpace the Escort men
Derek McGarrity, who has five international Circuit of Ireland wins to his credit, leads the National Rally entry list, his WRC Ford Fiesta, which is not eligible for the main event, spearheading a field made up mainly of a host of crowd-pleasing rear-wheel-drive Escorts.
Drivers like Wesley Patterson, Frank Kelly, Keith White, Camillus Bradley and Declan McNaughton, devoted Escort men, will be at the fore-front of a rally which follows in the wheel tracks of the international division and covers the same ground.
It will also include a couple of cars never seen on this side of the Irish Sea, a pair of Mitsubishi Mirages which will be driven by Swede Robert Blomberg and Welshman Jamie Jukes.
Developed in Sweden, the Mirages are built to R5-specification but have yet to be homologated for international competition, hence their appearance in the national category.
They took in the opening round of the British championship, the Mid Wales Rally, where Osian Pryce won the National Cup section with stage times which would have secured fifth place overall if the Mitsubishi had been eligible for the main event. Pryce is focusing on the DMACK Trophy series in the World championship and sits out the Circuit, leaving Blomberg and Jukes to debut the cars in Ireland.
Standing out from the crowd, too, will be the S2000 Proton Satria of Ollie Mellors who, now 21, has been making waves on YouTube since he was old enough to reach the pedals of a rally car.