Dubliner Robert Barrable topped the time sheets as drivers got their first taste of the action at the Circuit of Ireland Rally on Thursday.
The competitors in round three of the FIA European Rally Championship enjoyed a qualifying stage at Croft near Holywood, a short burst of a mere 3.22 kilometres.
Barrable topped the time sheets with his Ford Fiesta RS with the series leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz next up in a similar car
Charles Martin was third in his Peugeot 208 T16 while pre-event favourite Craig Breen was timed fourth in another Peugeot 208 T16.
However, the action for real gets under way on Friday when the drivers tackle the first of the special stages, Buck’s Head near Downpatrick.
A total of 16 stages over two days.
One major disappointment for local fans was the withdrawal of Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings will not be taking part.
He feels that as only drivers competing in the European Rally Championship part of the event can take the actual Circuit winner’s trophy, he just does not see the point in competing.
Therefore he will now put his efforts into the home internationals including the Donegal International which is rated by many as the best event currently on the Irish calendar.