The event, widely regarded as one of the most intense and demanding events on Tarmac in the UK, has been won by islanders in each of the past 10 years and MacCrone was pipped by another Dervaig man, Calum Duffy, last year.
Second place was a remarkable achievement in a 1600cc, two-wheel drive Ford Fiesta R2 against far more powerful cars, many of them four-wheel drive but this year's Fiesta is a completely different beast: four-wheel drive and with a 2400cc naturally-aspirated engine.
It has been developed by M-Sport, the team that runs the World Rally Championship campaign for Ford and will be having only its second outing. The engine, a 2.4-litre rather than 1.6 and producing 325bhp, will be encased in the bodyshell that Miko Hirvonen drove to victory in Monte Carlo. It has been designed for competitors using the S2000 in national championships.
"Malcolm and Matthew Wilson [World Rally Championship drivers] have both been out giving the car a shakedown and both say that it is incredibly quick," said Stuart Louden, MacCrone's co-driver from Uddingston who has just returned from World Championship action in the Rallye de France Alsace. "The car has only ever been out once before on the Malcolm Wilson Rally with this engine in it. John says that the sound is brilliant."
MacCrone said: "We'll really need to up our pace if we're to beat Calum, but it's going to be fun. It's always great to come back and do what I think is the best rally in the world."
Duffy's opportunities to compete this year have been compromised by work commitments and this year's event will be his first competitive drive since his victory last year. He will take to the roads in his Ford Escort MkII, which has been refitted in Ireland.
"I've no trepidation about going into the rally without having rallied since last October," said Duffy, whose co-driver will again be his brother Iain. "I've done it before, though it might take a couple of stages just to shake the rust off. It's also a long rally, which works in our favour because, if we drop time on Friday night, we can usually pick it up on Saturday. We'll just go out there, do the best we can, put times on the board and, if someone comes along and beats them, then fair dues to them."
Another prominent Mull driver is James McGillivray, the 2005 winner, who lasted a mere 100 metres last year before an electric gremlin halted his Ford Escort Mk II, while John Cope the Bury man who was third last year, is likely to lead the English challenge in his Impreza.
Tony Bardy, from Richmond finished last year's event upside down but has had his Nissan Sunny GTi-R repaired and will compete again. More than 100 crews will contest 19 stages and 157 miles, starting this evening and continuing over three nights and two days.
A number of changes have been made and most, says Iain Campbell, clerk of the course, have been introduced to offer "the thousands of spectators more opportunities to view the cars in action".
The biggest change will be tomorrow afternoon when, after two southern stages at Scridain and Gribun Rocks, the northern loop of three stages will be run twice, providing spectators with the chance to see the cars in daylight for a second time.