Jennings and McGarrity enjoy good weekend
Published: 13 Jul 2012 13:000 comments
On a busy weekend for Garry Jennings, the Kesh driver started as favourite for the Sligo Stages Rally on Saturday. Driving the ex-Eugene Donnelly Toyota Corolla, Garry's run of recent success came to an abrupt end when the car stopped on the first stage, dropping an unrecoverable 18 minutes.
"It was the same problem we had in Birr," he explained. "The car just stopped seven miles into the first stage. I changed all the sensors I could under the bonnet and she started again. We were fastest on most of the stages after that, even though we were catching cars on the stage because we were running so far down the field. We could have won the rally except for that delay."
Garry's misfortune was to the benefit of Martin McGarrity, navigating for Shane Maguire. The pair were locked in a fierce battle with Trevor and Kenny Bustard with the duo swapping the lead several times during the day. With two stages remaining the Bustard brothers held a slender 10 second advantage, but crashed heavily on the penultimate stage, handing victory to Maguire and McGarrity.
There was frustration for both Jon Armstrong and Jonny Leonard. Jon Armstrong continued his disappointing run of retirements when he initially broke a drive shaft on the first stage, and after limping back to service, suffered a similar mechanical problem on stage three to end his event. Jonny Leonard fared even worse, failing to get through the opening stage when he bent the axle of his Fiesta.
The following day presented Garry Jennings with an opportunity to put his disappointment behind him, as he travelled to Michelstown for the Sean Conlon Memorial Forestry Rally. Switching to the Subaru Impreza he acquired at the beginning of the season, Garry posted second fastest time on the opening stage, before snatching the lead after stage two. It was a lead he was never to relinquish. "It has been a long time since I was in the woods so it took me the first stage to bed myself in," he explained. "After that we put the pace up a bit and I felt in control from the second stage on. We had no problems with the car. It's a 19 year old car and it never gives a problem."
Garry's' overall win further strengthens his position at the head of the Irish Forestry Championship, and a top two finish on the Omagh based Bushwhacker Rally in September could see him wrap up the title with one event still to run.
Trillick brothers Leroy and Gary Mills were bidding for class honours in Mitchelstown, and brought their Vauxhall Corsa home first in class one.
Gary was home from Australia for his brother's wedding, and he and Leroy switched their normal seats as Gary took the steering wheel.
Despite a minor off road excursion on the second stage which cost them a minute in lost time, they posted some impressive stage times on their way to class success.