Ulster triumph will see Garry Jennings home in on title
Few will know the backroads and byways of Fermanagh better than Garry Jennings.
For a decade now the lorries of Jennings Fuels have been delivering heating oil all around Ulster's lakelands, often with Garry himself at the wheel.
But this weekend instead of sitting high up in the cab of a heavily-laden tanker, Jennings will be belted into the driving seat of a turbocharged four-wheel-drive Subaru S12 supercar which punches out more than 350 horse power.
The view will be different but the aim will be to deliver a first Todds Leap Ulster Rally victory and the first by a Fermanagh driver since the late Bertie Fisher back in 1996.
And he knows he will never have a better chance for although all his rivals have had an equal opportunity to prepare their pacenotes for the stages, this is Jennings' home ground, the two-day rally having moved from the north east of the province to a new base in Enniskillen.
Jennings, who will be co-driven by Rory Kennedy, a three-time Ulster winner alongside Fisher, is also on a high at the moment, leading the Irish Tarmac championship having won the Rally of the Lakes in Killarney and only being denied a second Donegal International victory by a contentious road penalty.
"We could have hung our heads and sulked," he admits after the Donegal disappointment but instead Jennings picked himself up and bounced back by winning the tricky Lurgan Park Rally less than two weeks ago.
"Originally we had planned this as a learning year but the step up from production cars to the S12 Subaru has gone better than I expected, scoring Tarmac championship points on every round," he explains.
"Now the goal has to be to win the title and a good result this weekend would be an important step in that direction.
"That the rally is in Fermanagh is good and bad. It adds a bit more pressure because a lot of people here expect me to win and will be disappointed if I don't. But it's a great opportunity and, fingers crossed, I'll make the most of it."
Ranged against Jennings are the Subarus of potential winners like Sam Moffett and the new Irish national champion Declan Boyle as well as 2010 Ulster winner Derek McGarrity and Donagh Kelly.
The rally, which will also see Alastair Fisher trying to take top spot in the British championship, starts at lunchtime tomorrow and features spectator stages at St Angelo airport.
Top of the Ulster Rally entry list: 1 Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza), 2 Sam Moffett/James O'Reilly (Subaru Impreza), 3 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Ford Focus), 4 Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru Impreza), 5 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Ford Focus), 6 Stephen Wright/Suzanne Wright (Mitsubishi Lancer); 7 Josh Moffett/John Rowan (Mitsubishi Lancer); 8 Rory Byrne/James Byrne (Mitsubishi Lancer).