Seven-time Circuit of Ireland winner Jimmy McRae confirmed for Killarney Historic Rally

Killarney and District Motor Club launched its annual Rentokil-Initial Historic Rally with a special event in the town's Scott's Hotel on Friday night.

The December 2 event marks the end of the rally season in Ireland while at the same time kick-starting the Christmas festive celebrations in the popular tourist town.

Friday's launch was attended by host of special guests including WRC co-driver Paul Nagle, members of the town's municipal council and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Clerk of the course Kevin Flannery confirmed that some big-name drivers will be in Killarney for Ireland's only dedicated historic rally. "There are lots of rumours about who is coming but we do know that rally legend and seven-time Circuit of Ireland winner Jim McRae from Scotland will be here," he said.

Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism vice president Paul Sheridan said: "We congratulate all the members of Killarney and District Motor Club for putting on what promise to be another outstanding event. We in chamber are acutely aware tireless work and effort in bring such an event to Killarney as an economic driver and enjoyment it brings to many rally followers from all corners of the country."

Managing director of Rentokil Initial Michael O'Mahony said: "This is our fifth year involved in this amazing event and it's amazing that all of the various category winners back again this year, this shows the esteem of the Killarney Historic Rally."

Top Local Historic competitors include Pat Looney from Kilcummin, who will debut his newly built Bda powered Ford Escort Mk1. Rathmore's Mark Falvey returns to the stages after a brief lay off and is sure to be well in contention. Todd Falvey will be out in his beautiful prepared Porsche 911.

Southern 4 championship winner Donal O'Connor from Rathmore will also be pushing hard for top local honour. Killarney's Aidan Kennedy and Glenbeigh's Jack O'Shea also head the Mini cooper line up.

Leading local crews in the Modified category include last year's winner Rob Duggan, Charlie Hickey, Kevin O'Donoghue, Tadhg O'Sullivan, Noel O'Sullivan, Vincent O'Shea and John Hickey who will all field Ford Escorts.

The rally will use a slightly different format to previous years, mainly to allow the Moll's Gap road open to the public earlier than usual. The rally will open with a run over that famous stage followed by the difficult Ballaghbeama Pass. These two stages are repeated following a service at Killarney's Liebherr factory before the crews visit Caragh Lake and Rockfield twice. The second run over Rockfield will under the cover of darkness.

The rally will count as the first round of the 2018 Clonakilty Black Pudding Irish Tarmac Historic Rally Championship; the final round of the 2017 Southern Four Rally Championship; and the final round of The 2017 HRCR West Wales Rally Spares - Stage Masters Challenge.