JEN­NINGS TAKES LUR­GAN PARK QUADRU­PLE

Motor Sport News - - Round - By Brian Pat­ter­son RE­SULTS Lur­gan Park Rally, July 2 ROAD RALLY ROUND-UP Pho­tos: Roy Dempster

Or­gan­iser: North Ar­magh Mo­tor Club When: July 2 Where: Lur­gan Park, County Ar­magh, North­ern Ire­land Stages: 8 Starters: 52

Fer­managh’s Garry Jen­nings scored a fourth win in a row on last Satur­day’s Or­chard Mo­tor­sport Lur­gan Park Rally in his re­paired Subaru Im­preza S12 WRC.

Ban­bridge man Kenny Mck­instry, also in a Subaru, kept the pres­sure on Jen­nings through­out the eight short, sharp spe­cial stages. Eleven-times a win­ner over the years and dubbed ‘King of the Park’, Mck­instry had no an­swer to Jen­nings’ stun­ning speed.

For­mer Ir­ish Tar­mac and Na­tional Rally cham­pion De­clan Boyle, co-driven by his cousin Brian Boyle, made the trip to Lur­gan from Let­ter­ma­caward in North-west Done­gal and, although a com­par­a­tive stranger to the spe­cialised na­ture of the Lur­gan Park lanes, gave the rally a good go and fin­ished an im­pres­sive third in his Ford Fi­esta WRC.

Pre-event show­ery weather made for slip­pery con­di­tions in the Park and tyre choice was a dilemma for most of the driv­ers. Jen­nings just got on with the job, and was fastest by 1.3s from Kenny Mck­instry on the open­ing stage. De­clan Boyle was a fur­ther 1.6s back. The time gaps may not sound big, but in the terms of this short, snappy rally they were sig­nif­i­cant. Jen­nings re­in­forced his ad­van­tage on stage two, and he ex­tended his lead to over 5s from Mck­instry. The lat­ter was prob­a­bly over am­bi­tious in his tyre choice for that sec­ond stage.

Jen­nings, de­spite his dra­matic speed, had his own wor­ries. His Subaru en­gine, which had blown up on the open­ing stage of the Done­gal In­ter­na­tional Rally two weeks be­fore, had been hastily re­built and was show­ing signs of low oil pres­sure and also a lu­bri­cant leak. His me­chan­ics changed the oil and Garry bat­tled on.

Fur­ther down the leader­board there were sev­eral in­ter­est­ing bat­tles. Derek Mc­gar­rity in his Fi­esta WRC ad­mit­ted to be­ing a bit ragged in his ef­forts to stay ahead of Derek Mcgee­han (Mini WRC) in the bat­tle for fourth be­hind Boyle. Mcgee­han even­tu­ally squeezed ahead of Mc­gar­rity, with both driv­ers say­ing, as did Boyle, that they felt their 1600cc ma­chines couldn’t match the two-litre Subarus in the Park.

For­mer NI cham­pion Stu­art Big­ger­staff hasn’t driven in anger for a long time, but in the ‘fam­ily’ Im­preza WRC he got into his stride dur­ing the day and set some good times on the way to sixth. Robert Wood­side, driv­ing a Dom Buck­ley-pre­pared Fi­esta R5 was sixth early on but a few small ‘slip-ups’ meant he fin­ished sev­enth, just pip­ping Cashel man Pat O’con­nell. The lat­ter drove very well through­out, and had one dra­matic mo­ment when his Mit­subishi Lancer got out of shape and the driv­ers’ side rear­quar­ter can­noned a waste bin over a hedge and into the gar­den of a house.

There was par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in the two-wheel-drive cat­e­gory, and Ar­magh man Damian Toner in his Es­cort, who won the Lough­gall Rally ear­lier this year, took the honours against strong op­po­si­tion. Keith White and Frank Kelly, also in Es­corts, were sec­ond and third in the class race, but de­spite much wheel spin­ning in the, at times, very slippy con­di­tions, could make no im­pres­sion on the fly­ing Toner.

There was a chance that Shane Mc­girr in his rear-wheel-drive Star­let could up­set the Es­cort ap­ple cart, but Fivemile­town man Mc­girr was forced to call it a day two stages be­fore the end when his Star­let blew a head gas­ket.

Adrian Hether­ing­ton was also in the hunt, but two lurid spins into the trees dropped him right down the or­der and out of the reck­on­ing.

There was a great bat­tle be­tween two young tigers, Alan Smyth (Suzuki Swift) and Kyle White (Citroen C2) for R2 honours. Smyth edged it by 5s. Stephen Mawhin­ney in his Lo­tus Sun­beam took the Historic ‘K’ class honours and Drew Wylie (Es­cort) the MSA Historic class.

Jen­nings bounced back from Done­gal mis­ery Lur­gan Park Rally

Toner was Lur­gan’s top two-wheel-drive fin­isher in ninth place

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