SECOND PLACE at the Orchard Motorsport Cork 20 International Rally at the weekend was enough for Kesh driver Garry Jennings to secure his first ever Tarmac Championship.
Garry Jennings said it was great to bring the title home to Fermanagh for only the second time – the only other Fermanagh man to win the title was the late, great Bertie Fisher.
Last year Jennings won the Forestry championship and now he can add the Irish Tarmac Championship to his CV – one of the greatest domestic championships anywhere.
Jennings’ co-driver for the Cork 20, and for much of the season, was Letterkenny’s Rory Kennedy, who previously won a tarmac championship with Bertie Fisher.
It has been quite a season for Jennings with the Subuaru giving problems earlier in the season but the Kesh businessman has worked hard to overcome any problems and made good choices all the way along with regard to how to tackle each event he competed in.
From disappointment in not retaining his Donegal crown to winning his home event, the Fermanagh based Ulster rally and the Killarney Rally of the Lakes it has been rollercoaster of a season for Jennings.
In 2011 Jennings finished third in the tarmac championship, and bettered that to finish second last year.
Going into the Munster event Jennings knew that a top four finish should be enough for him to lift the title that he has craved.
Early on in this event it became clear the Subaru’s cooling system was going to be a problem, and the engine was losing water so Garry knew he wasn’t going to win the rally.
But the Fermanagh man also knew that if he could get the car home in a strong position then the championship might be his.
‘The car went into ‘safe’ mode on the first day so we knew we wouldn’t win the rally. We had to drive at 7/10s for the rest of the rally, which is tough, to conserve the car. Doing this you can lose concentration but we managed to keep it going, and set a few fastest laps over the two day event.
Jennings main rival for the title was Donegal man Donagh Kelly but a superb drive in his Subaru Impreza WRC kept Kelly at bay and Jennings managed to stay ahead of Kelly (who finished third) coming home just 27 seconds behind Cork 20 winner Daragh O’Riordan in his Fiesta WRC.
As Garry and Rory climbed out of their Impreza at the finish of the event in Millstreet the Kesh man let a yell of delight that might just have been heard in his home county – so pleased was he at finally achieving his sporting goal.
“The rally was based in Millstreet, the home of Billy Coleman. And it’s great to bring the tarmac championship home again to Fermanagh -where it belongs” said Jennings.