Fourteen nations will be represented when the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally, round four of the FIA European Rally Championship, gets underway next week, April 17-19.
The world-famous event, first run in 1931, has attracted a bumper entry with 37 crews signed up for the international section and a further 84 chasing honours in the national contest.
Star names include Peugeot Rally Academy duo Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen, Skoda Motorsport pair Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand, home talents Robert Barrable and Sam Moffett, French privateer Robert Consani, ERC 2WD champion Zoltan Bessenyey, plus nine ERC Junior drivers including title leader Jan Cerny and newcomers Gino Bux, Alex Parpottas and Stephen Wright.
Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis said: “I am delighted so many nations will be represented when the European Rally Championship comes to Northern Ireland. We are also honoured that so many talented drivers will be taking part in a wide range of machinery and particularly pleased that so many stars of the future will be showcasing their talents.”
The full entry list is available - HERE
Meanwhile, Ulsterman Kris Meeke has described the event as 'something pretty special'. Meeke, who is competing with Citroen in the WRC this season, was a regular visitor to the Circuit of Ireland as a child and also took part in his own right back in 2007.
“It's something pretty special,” said Meeke, who hails from Dungannon in Northern Ireland. “I have only done it the once actually. I was leading with a few stages to go when, unfortunately, my engine expired in the Subaru.
“But I grew up with the Circuit of Ireland through my father's involvement running the late, great Bertie Fisher. I travelled, watched and worked on the Circuit with my father for many years. It's got the tradition and it's fantastic to see it back in the European championship after the work put in by the organising team.
“It's a pity I won't be able to do the rally this year but obviously my priorities lie elsewhere. But I will be out there supporting the rally.”