Belfast Telegraph

Garry Jennings joins exclusive club with Park win

By Sammy Hamill

Garry Jennings added his name to an exclusive list when he completed a hat-trick of victories in the Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park Rally.

Kenny McKinstry is another on that list and he did his best to prevent Jennings joining him and Kevin Lynch as the only three-in-a-row winners.

But even he couldn't match the pace of the exuberant Kesh driver in his S12 Subaru, finishing seven seconds adrift at the end of eight fiercely fought stages around the Lurgan Park lanes.

The winning margin was comfortable enough but it hardly reflected the swings and roundabouts of a day when the weather which played a key role.

Heavy overnight rain had left the park lanes treacherous and the car/driver combination which mastered them best was McGeehan in the nimble WRC Mini.

A leading engineer, he showed he is a competitive driver, too, by setting fastest times on the first two stages to edge ahead of Jennings and a cautious McKinstry. McGarrity, third after the first stage, made the first of three costly mistakes on stage two, being caught out on a slippery approach to a chicane and ramming his S14 Impreza in a protective bale.

But with the sun breaking through and the roads drying, Jennings put the pedal down, taking the lead after McGeehan overshot a junction on stage four.

From there the Donegal International winner began to pull away, explaining afterwards: "I struggled in the morning with the slick (dry weather) tyres and I had to work hard to stay in touch with the Mini.

"But once the stages dried out I could get the power down and the car came into its own."

McKinstry, too, lost time early on but finished strongly with two fastest times to move past McGeehan who was some 14 seconds up on McGarrity at the end.

Former NI champion Stuart Biggerstaff made an impressive rally return to take fifth in his Subaru.

Wesley Patterson won the two-wheel-drive category in his Escort and Stephen Mawhinney was the historic winner in his Sunbeam.

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