Next month's 50th anniversary Rally Isle of Man powered by Microgaming is set to light up the famous stages across the Island with an entry list high in both quality and volume announced by organisers today.
The three-day event is a round of the Irish Historic Tarmac Rally Championship and a crucial double-points scorer for the Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Championship.
As a result it has attracted 105 crews from the Island, around the British Isles and even from Japan and Belgium.
The Historic section, Rallee Classicagh, will be headed by 2012 victor Darren Moon from Leeds, whose MkII Ford Escort continues to undergo a re-build in readiness for the mammoth challenge presented not only by the three day-long, 192-stage mile route, but also by a strong opposition.
In fact the entire top six from last year's event are back, including Omagh’s Ryan Barrett, the 2010 Manx Historic winner who scored a crushing victory in the category on last weekend's Ulster Historic Rally in his MkII Escort, and former winner David Stokes in a MkI version.
The cars are certainly also the stars, befitting of the anniversary edition, with the Porsche 911 and Mini Cooper S, each celebrating their own anniversaries, represented aplenty alongside Triumph TR7, Sunbeam Lotus, MGB, Volvo Amazon, Hillman Avenger and Opel Ascona examples.
The Manx International Rally section also looks hugely competitive.
Carnforth teenager Arron Newby will lead the event into action with local co-driver Rob Fagg in their TEG Sport Subaru.
Arron has set the UK rally scene alight with a string of eight outright event wins, four of them coming in the last six weeks.
The pair finished fifth last year and are right in contention in the Manx Championship, but again here the entire top six from 2012 are on the entry, including a last minute submission by Steve Quine and Richard Skinner, who took victory on a dramatic final stage twelve months ago.
Multiple Manx champion Nigel Cannell, Sean Kelly, Andrew Leece and Steve Colley are all in Mitsubishis and each have the mixture of speed and local knowledge.
John Gill, Chairman of Rally Isle of Man is delighted by the entry. “The competitors are our focus, we are trying to deliver the event they want at the most cost-effective level we can, with the support of our sponsors to whom we are very grateful. We took soundings throughout last years rally and since and have tried to implement all of the tweaks that were suggested to us, and for the entry to be over 40% up on last year is the best endorsement we could have.”
With the start and a side-by-side stage on Douglas promenade the highlight of the opening day, Castletown taking centre stage on day two and a final run down the TT course to finish the event right alongside the TT Grandstand, all the ingredients are there for a very special three days of celebration and hard-nosed action.
Full seeded entry lists and route maps for the September 12-14 event are available on the event website, rallyisleofman.co.im