Entries have now officially opened for the 2010 RACMSA Rally of Scotland - the penultimate round of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which runs from October 15-17.
It is anticipated the event will attract one of the most competitive entry lists of the 2010 IRC season due to its positioning on the calendar when many of the top drivers will be hoping to keep their title hopes on course.
Likewise, the way is open for domestic-based crews to make a name for themselves on the international stage thanks to the running of a National-seeded event on three of Sunday's stages - including the mighty 33km Loch Ard stage - soon after the IRC competitors.
Details of entry fees to contest the Rally of Scotland have also been released at £2200 for manufacturer-supported IRC entries, £1500 for independents and just £300 for National B entries competing in the Sunday-only event.
The IRC's seven events to date - in Monte Carlo, Brazil, Greece, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal - have produced six different winners with each of the front-running names having suffered at least one non-score along the way.
That's left the title race wide open and with each driver's end-of-season total made up from their best seven scores out of the 12 rallies on the schedule, 2010's Rally of Scotland could go down as one of the most exciting international rallies to be held in Britain in the past decade. Indeed, many could see the event as an opportunity to land a hefty points' haul to help counter a previous disappointment and boost their end-of-season scores.
All eyes are sure to be on the British stars including last year's winner Guy Wilks and 2009 IRC Champion Kris Meeke plus Scottish home heroes such as Alister McRae and rising star Dave Weston Jnr. Northern Irishman Meeke currently lies fifth in the IRC standings and County Durham's Wilks fourth – despite missing the two most recent rounds due to injury following a crash in Italy.
“We could end up with 15 or more crews genuinely fighting it out for the victory,” said Rally of Scotland clerk of the course Iain Campbell. “Currently at the top of the IRC table it's a battle of wits between the Skoda and Peugeot entries but we're also expecting a three-pronged attack from Proton on our event as well as some very competitive entries from M-Sport with its Fiestas.
“Alister McRae going flat-out for victory on the Rally of Scotland is sure to capture the imagination of the Scottish public as is the opportunity to cheer on some of the newer Scottish talents that are beginning to emerge. But it's more than that – all the signs are this will be one of the most exciting line-ups in rallying anywhere this season. Furthermore, the fans will get to see those competitors pushing to the limits on what are regarded as some of rallying's very best stages. It makes for an unmissable event for enthusiasts not just in Scotland but from all across the UK.”
The 2010 Rally of Scotland will start at historic Scone Palace on the Friday evening (October 15) before heading into some of rallying's most dramatic stages in Perth and Kinross and Stirling on the Saturday and Sunday. Perth Airport will provide crews with a central service while the Ceremonial Finish (on Sunday afternoon) will be held at Stirling Castle.