With a first win of the season under his belt, multiple British Rally champion Mark Higgins heads home to the Isle of Man with an apparent psychological advantage. But after Irishman Keith Cronin won the recent non-championship Ravens Rock Rally in Ireland, beating more powerful World Rally Cars along the way, it is gloves off for round four.
As the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship enters the second half of the season Higgins and Cronin are split by a mere two points, Cronin having ripped up the form book on both the gravel rounds.
But, while a puncture cost him two minutes on the recent Jim Clark International Rally, the fight back was a major talking point as the young Irishman closed to within three seconds of Higgins before settling for second.
Whilst Higgins has won this weekend's event a number of times over the past ten years, Cronin does have an idea of what to expect when he tackles the high speed Manx lanes.
Indeed in 2008 the Mitsubishi pilot won Group N on the equally competitive Manx National Rally.
Higgins meanwhile will be surrounded by a horde of youngsters and will be hoping that experience will once again triumph over modern machinery as he continues to campaign his ageing Subaru N11 which has served him well for the past two seasons.
Although the overall fight has so far been between Higgins and Cronin there are a number of youngsters hovering around the fringes of the podium.
David Bogie took his first podium on the Pirelli Rally but failed to get much mileage on the Jim Clark Rally and thus his Mitsubishi Evo 10 is still an unknown quantity on tarmac.
2008 Pirelli Star drive winner Adam Gould took the final podium position on the Jim Clark Rally and already seems to be at home in his prize drive Subaru Impreza N14.
Alister Fisher and Jonnie Greer have both been regularly inside the top five all year long and their Evo 9's are proving to be both reliable and rapid.