Jennings dominates Donegal International
June 18, 2012 by Paul Grogan
The Topaz Donegal International Rally is one of the undoubted highlight events of the Irish Tarmac Championship calendar. Competitors were faced with 22 tough stages including some of the most famous Irish tarmac stages including Atlantic Drive, Glen and Knockalla to name but a few.
Garry Jennings took a fine victory behind the wheel of his Melvyn Evans prepared Subaru Impreza S14 WRC. Jennings, who normally drives a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, led right from the off and began to open up a lead which he was never to loose. The event, which was round 4 of the Irish Tarmac Championship, put series leader and number 1 seed Darren Gass as favorite to take the spoils but engine problems from early on left the former Pirelli Star well down the order. However in the overnight service he managed to get these issues resolved and began his fight back up the leader board- eventually taking a fine 5th overall. Darragh O’Riordan in his Subaru Impreza S12B had initially put rally leader Jennings under pressure during Saturday’s tests but the Cork driver slipped off the road on Sunday morning loosing 7 minutes as he pulled his Subaru out from the undergrowth and with it any chance of outright victory. Had he not had slipped off this could have turned out to be a fine battle given the O’Riordan’s pace so far in the Irish Tarmac Championship this season.
First to benefit from O’Riordan’s mishap was Seamus Leonard in his slightly older Subaru Impreza S10. Leonard drove a superb rally all weekend and was delighted with his finish. Tarmac championship regular Derek McGarrity was back behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC this weekend with Paul Kiely on the notes. The pair had a weekend of mixed fortunes but finished 3rd overall in the end to take home a solid haul of championship points.
The National section turned out to be some what of a mini-MkII Escort challenge after the demise of David Bogie in his MG Metro 6R4 on stage 6. Declan Boyle was first home just 4 seconds ahead of Manus Kelly, with Martin McGee, Brian Brogan and Paul Barrett rounding out the top 5.
Historic section victory went to Andy Johnson with Jim McSherry on the notes in their Vauxhall Chevette. The pair won by just 6 seconds over number 2 seeds John Keatley and James McKeefrey in their Ford Escort with Stephen and Ellen McFerran rounding out the top 3 also in a Ford Escort.
No 1 seed Damien Whoriskey took the Junior rally spoils with Michael McClafferty on the notes in their Ford Escort. Barry McLaughlin and Christopher McLaughin rounded out the top 3 in a pair of Toyota Corollas.
The Irish Tarmac Championship takes it’s mid season break and resumes at the Todds Leap Ulster Rally starting on Friday 17th August.