A capacity field of almost 170 crews will be beating a path to the Atlantic northwest this weekend for the highlight of the Irish motorsport season, the Donegal Rally.
Among those leading the Fermanagh challenge at the three day event will be Alastair Fisher and Garry Jennings.
It’s a particularly important event for Fisher who is looking to keep the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship (ITRC) race alive with current table topper Craig Breen needing just one more win to take the title outright. Breen is in a Ford Fiesta WRC at Donegal as he guns hard for overall honours, so Fisher has a great opportunity to claw back some ground with only R5 cars eligible for ITRC points.
“We’re getting geared up now,” said the Erne driver. “We made one day’s worth of pace notes on Sunday. On Wednesday and Thursday we’ll be doing another pass over the stages just checking our notes.
“It was dry half the day and the second half it was wet. It’s probably going to be a changeable weekend which will make it difficult, but generally we like the mixed conditions. I don’t mind a bit of rain.”
Another man who likes the wet is Garry Jennings. The Kesh speedster won the event in 2012 and 2015 and feels confident of being in the mix for overall garlands once more this weekend with his Subaru Impreza WRC.
“We’ve been watching the weather forecast quite closely in work here,” said Jennings. “One day it’s giving heavy rain, the next day it’s giving it’s dry. We’ll just not know until the weekend what the weather’s actually going to do. It’s looking like it could be a lottery with tyres
“Personally I hope for a bit of rain, because I’d be a bit better in the rain than the rest of them, but either way it’s going to be interesting. I’m just going to see how it goes, I’m not going to be that far away. If I’m in the top three come Sunday I’ll be happy enough.”
The action gets going on Friday when the crews leave An Grianan Theatre to complete six stages in the Buncrana, Burt and Manorcunningham area.
“Friday is a new day this year and the stages are fairly fast on the Friday with a lot of junctions,” said Fisher who will once again have Omagh man Gordon Noble on board as co-driver.
“With Donegal being three days and the geographical spread of the stages across the different peninsulas it always leaves the tyre call very tricky. It could be wet on one stage and dry on another so it’s about trying to find the compromise and utilise the best information you can get from the people out on the stages to make your tyre call.
“Saturday and Sunday are the classic Donegal stages, but there’s a lot of work in them as usual. The last stage is called Port Lake which is a tricky narrow stage with grass down the middle so that will be a difficult one for the last stage.”
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