McGarrity’s new foe as Jennings makes bow
Derek McGarrity and the regulars in the Northern Ireland rally championship will have a new challenger on the Lakeland Stages this weekend.
Garry Jennings, apart from winning the Donegal International and finishing second on the Ulster Rally, has dominated the Irish forest championship in his “fun car”, an elderly Group A Subaru Impreza.
And on Saturday the Kesh driver will have it on the start-line for his first appearance in the Carryduff Forklift NI series which takes place in the forests of his native Fermanagh.
McGarrity — the 2010 champion — is the current leader but having recently sold his S12 Subaru he, too, will turn the clock back to drive a ’99 specification Impreza which he is borrowing from Pat Norris.
Other Subarus will be in the hands of Enda McNulty, recent winner of the Sunset Rally, and Norfolk visitor Ray Brammer.
Despite having failed to score on the past two rounds, McGarrity still holds an 11-point lead over second placed Derek McGeehan who will take to the forests for the first time in his WRC Mini.
Drew Stewart, the leading Ford Escort driver, is third a further two points back.
The Lakelands line-up will also see the return of three drivers whose focus is usually overseas these days.
They are WRC Academy contender Alastair Fisher, a former winner of his home event, as well as Jonny Greer and Desi Henry, front-runners in the British championship. Greer is expected to switch from his regular Citroen DS3 to the Evo9 production Mitsubishi in which he was narrowly beaten by Fisher in a nail-biting finish to the 2010 event.
Trevor Ferguson is the production category leader in his N12 Subaru but as well as Greer he will have strong opposition from the Mitsubishis of the likes of Mark Donnelly, Ian Cochrane and Gerard McFall who is second in the standings.
The rally, which is being sponsored by BJT Commercials and Plant Hire, starts from Fisher Engineering in Ballinamallard at 10am and will feature two 14 mile stages.