Previous winners and winning cars of the Donegal International Rally will be reunited this weekend

A once in a lifetime gathering of the greatest drivers in Irish rallying history will take place this Sunday at the Donegal International Rally.

The ‘Greatest of all Time’ will take on two of the event’s classic stages as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the three-day event, which gets underway on Friday morning.

Led by Ari Vatanen – a World Rally Champion – the special field includes Irish legends Billy Coleman, Cathal Curley, Austin McHale and Andrew Nesbitt. John Lyons and James Cullen will also star, as will Vincent Bonner.

Between them, they have amassed over 100 rally victories, a World Rally Championship, Irish and British rally titles, four Paris-Dakar wins and success at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. Common to them all, however, is success at the Donegal International rally, with Nesbitt the most successful courtesy of his five triumphs.

Co-ordinated by multiple Irish champion Donagh Kelly, who will be driving the winning Subaru Impreza WRC S12B car that won the event in the hands of the late Manus Kelly, the stars will drive in a demonstration run over the High Glen and Atlantic Drive stages.

“The cars will convene at the Rosapenna Hotel in Downings at 9am on Sunday and the drivers will be available to meet with rally fans and sign autographs on posters especially designed to mark the occasion, and which will surely form part of any rally collectors treasure trove in the years ahead,” said a spokesperson.

The non-competitive drive on the two classic stages will take place behind the main competitive field on Sunday after 1pm at High Glen and the cars will then complete Atlantic Drive before a finish ceremony back at the Rosapenna Hotel – the HQ for the first ever Donegal Rally.

The 50th instalament of the Donegal International Rally is also a counting round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, will all the main manufacturers represented in the main field, including Ford, Citroen, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Skoda.

Defending champion Sam Moffett is the top seed and, unlike many of those running inside the top 10, has opted to stick with the family-owned Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car after failing to source a suitable Rally5 or Rally2 car in time for the three-day meeting.

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