Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Ireland organisers have revealed that the entry has more than doubled for rounds three and four of the season this weekend.
Nine crews have signed up for the two rounds, which will feature on the Larsen Circuit of Ireland Rally – up from the four crews that tackled rounds one and two.
“With just four teams contesting rounds one and two at last month's West Cork Rally, we are delighted to see such an increase in numbers for next weekend,” championship manager Simon Slade said. “With the introduction of pay-as-you-go registration and a few other adjustments which make it easier to enter, we have been able to attract more competitors and we hope to see even more crews join up as the season progresses.”
A significant addition to this weekend's Evo Challenge field is reigning Champion Brendan Cumiskey, with co-driver Conor Foley. Living local to the event, the Dundalk driver will use the same Evo IX he drove to victory last year, although he will have most of his on-event expenses covered as part of his prize for winning the 2008 Mitsubishi series.
Organisers are delighted to welcome former UK Evo Challenge front-runner Neil McCance, who joins the Irish series for the first time at this event. After five years with the British Mitsubishi championship, he and co-driver Sean Ferris are expected to feature well.
Another crew to span both sides of the Irish Sea are Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont. After leading the Mitsubishi series in Ireland for much of 2008, the Ballymena pair are the only competitors to be contesting both the UK and Irish Evo Challenges this season, this event marking their return to series in Ireland.
A warm welcome is also extended to three new teams who join the Evolution Challenge this weekend: William Mavitty/Keefe Kilcoyne, Geoff McMahon/Robert Graham and Alan Burrows/Gavin Burrows.
Currently second in the series standings after a consistent performance in rounds one and two, Liam Egan will be again making the trip from his current place of residence in New York back to his home-land. He will be joined for the first time by co-driver Mary O'Kane.
Third-placed Stanley Ballantine/Donnacha O'Callaghan are aiming to continue at the pace they found in West Cork. This time they hope their car will make it to the finish and they will not see a repeat of the transmission problems which caused an 11th hour retirement towards the end of round two.
Thomas White and Robert Murphy also ended the first two rounds prematurely with transmission problems and are therefore looking to get points on the board this weekend.
The Larsen Circuit Ireland Rally starts and finishes in Dundalk. Its eight special stages on Saturday represent round three of the Mitsubishi series, whilst the remaining six on Sunday represent round four.
Current series leaders Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors have chosen not to take part in the event.