Belfast Telegraph

Garry Jennings geared up for the rockier road ahead

By Sammy Hamill

It has been plaining sailing so far this season for Garry Jennings. Two rallies, two wins - and both by clear-cut margins.

He expects it to be more difficult this weekend when he lines up for the West Cork Rally, round two of the Irish Tarmac championship.

For a start, reigning champion Donagh Kelly is back for a one-off appearance in his title-winning WRC Ford Focus while Declan Boyle, Daragh O'Riordan, Roy White and Alan Ring are in the starting list in their WRC Ford Fiestas.

And Jennings will be wary, too, of the potential threat posed by Keith Cronin, a Cork man as well as a triple British champion.

He is part of the growing band of drivers who have switched to the newer R5 group of cars and although Cronin's Citroen DS3 lacks the power of Jennings' WRC Subaru S12, he will be in home territory. Indeed, this will be Jennings' first time in West Cork, newest round of the Tarmac series and home of sponsors Clonakilty Black Pudding.

Even if he wins he can't repeat his 2013 Tarmac title success as the championship this year centres on the R5 brigade and Jennings is one of a small number of leading drivers who have rejected the change.

It is Cronin who leads the standings, taking maximum points for his second place behind Jennings in Galway last month, and he is expected to be the R5 front runner again even though the opposition continues to gather strength under the new rules.

Alastair Fisher, the Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, Desi Henry, Stephen Wright, Jonny Greer and Joe McGonigle are all in the line-up. And former forestry champion Owen Murphy has joined the band in a Skoda.

Several have come straight from the opening round of the British championship in Wales but few had a trouble-free run in the snowy conditions and Josh Moffett was best placed in sixth.

Although Jennings and Kelly can be expected to fight over the top positions, Cronin and co will be hard on their tails.

Belfast Telegraph

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