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Omagh Fivemiletown Spring Rally - (Sat) 25 Feb 12

Posted: February 29, 2012 2:29 PM - 7644 Hits

Jennings - The highs & lows of rallying in one weekend!

Posted: February 29, 2012 2:29 PM

Garry Jennings experienced the true highs and lows of rallying over the weekend. It started on Saturday with overall victory at Fivemiletown Gravel Rally but ended with first stage retirement on Sunday’s opening round of the Dunlop Rally Championship in Birr.

Garry, who has had a phenomenal run of success over recent months started the Fivemiletown event as number one seed, often a severe disadvantage on gravel rallies as the leading car is forced to clear the loose gravel off the surface and create a cleaner line for the following cars. However, in his usual ‘hyper’ form Garry headed to stage one with the single focus of a day’s fun. Fastest time over the opening stage went to Colin Britton, with Garry a close two seconds in arrears. Stage two was a different story with the Subaru driver stamping his authority over the six mile test taking the lead from Britton and it was a lead he held till service despite a scare on SS4 when Garry, co-driven again on this occasion by Enniskillen’s Barry McNulty clipped a gate post and put the steering of the Mckinstry Motorsport prepared car out of line. Service followed and after a thorough check of the car Garry went on to consolidate his lead with a further three fastest stage times in the afternoon and take a 16 second win and the victory spoils.

It wasn’t a victory Garry could relax and enjoy however as he had to jump straight into his borrowed car and head south to Abbeyleix for the opening round of the Irish National Championship. This championship has brought the Kesh oil company owner success in the past with many GPN victories and some overall victories too. On the Thursday Garry received the call from Herbie Blackburn & McGeehan Motorsport offering the opportunity to drive one of the ex Eugene Donnelly championship winning Corolla WRC’s. There were however many obstacles to overcome. Firstly Garry had committed to the Fivemiletown event and would not retract his entry. The Corolla on offer was a left hand drive model and it had been nine years since the Irish GPN Champion tried his hand at driving from the opposite side. A few quick calls and everything was underway. The Birr club kindly accommodated the crew to complete their reconnaissance on Friday to allow Garry compete in Fivemiletown. Eugene Donnelly who last drove the famous Corolla to victory offered his left hand drive roadcar to allow Garry to familarise himself with the change and the McGeehan Motorsport team set about getting the Corolla ready.

Due to the time restraints there was no opportunity to test the car, in fact Garry and co-driver Herbie Blackburn’s first sighting of the car in the Jennings Fuels & Lubricants livery was when they crossed the start ramp and headed to the opening stage. The stage started well and Garry was getting acclimatised to the new machine when without warning they lost all front brakes. Thinking it was a burst pipe Garry pulled the car over to have a closer look but no leak could be found. With substantial time already lost and no sign of the offending problem Garry was forced to pull out of the event to avoid any risk of damaging the car. Later the car returned to service and it transpired that a seal in the brake cylinder had failed, most likely due to the lengthy period the car was idle. Normally these issues would have been ironed out with a pre-event test but that was not possible given the circumstances. It was a disappointing way to finish the weekend but hopefully we will get to see Garry in a WRC car before the season is out. Speaking from his Donegal Bay Fuels office on Monday morning Garry was upbeat
“I had a good weekend despite the disappointment of Birr. The stages in Fivemiletown were excellent, the car ran faultlessly and I was shocked at the strength of the Subaru. After clipping the gatepost I was sure the event was over for us. I am really enjoying being back on the gravel and still getting used to the car and trying to find the limits of it and the Kumho Tyres. I am hoping to contest the Carrick-On-Suir forest event this weekend. It has an exciting format with an afternoon loop of 3 stages totaling 34km followed by a repeat of the 3 stages under the cover of darkness. I must thank those around me for all their help last week, To be provided with the opportunity to drive a car, the caliber of the Corolla WRC is mind-blowing and I am very gracious to both Herbie Blackburn & McGeehan Motorsport of Draperstown for that. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be at the weekend but hopefully we can put something together to get out in the multiple championship winning car again in the near future. Also to Eugene Donnelly for kindly offering the lend of his left hand drive roadcar to acclimatise myself again.”


Posted: February 28, 2012 10:43 AM

Seeded Entry List / Time and Distance

Posted: February 23, 2012 10:25 AM

Time and Distance Schedule available at:

Entries Received (20 Feb)

Posted: February 17, 2012 11:13 AM

Regulations / Details

Posted: January 18, 2012 12:38 PM

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