JEN­NINGS HOP­ING TO JOIN ELITE CLUB IN GAL­WAY

WRC driver could be­come fourth man to suc­cess­fully de­fend rally vic­tory

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Ja­son Craig

Garry Jen­nings will aim to be­come only the fourth driver in the his­tory of the Gal­way In­ter­na­tional Rally to win the event for two years in a row af­ter break­ing his duck on the 2016 rally aboard his Subaru Im­preza S12B WRC.

Jen­nings’ maiden vic­tory on the Gal­way In­ter­na­tional fol­lowed sev­eral pre­vi­ous failed at­tempts, with last year’s re­sult com­ing against one of the strong­est fields as­sem­bled in re­cent times. He will face equally stiff op­po­si­tion this week­end with De­clan Boyle among the other lead­ing World Rally Car en­tries, while those in R5 ma­chin­ery – such as Mof­fett broth­ers Sam and Josh and Alas­tair Fisher – are vow­ing to push hard.

“I don’t ex­pect to be too far away but Gal­way is a very tricky rally, you need a lot of luck down there,” said Jen­nings.

“I was de­lighted to win last year and fi­nally get the mon­key off my back.

“No mat­ter who has en­tered you can be guar­an­teed a tough bat­tle; none of the top 10 crews hang about, it’s all hell for leather.

“Any in­ter­na­tional win is spe­cial but if I was to join a group like that with back-to-back wins it would, of course, be ex­tra spe­cial.” Jen­nings could join Mark Lovell (1988-’89), Austin Machale (1990-’91) and 1997-’98) and Eu­gene Don­nelly (2005-’06) have all achieved the feat pre­vi­ously.

A to­tal of 15 spe­cial stages make up the route for this year’s event, which will be based in the Athenry area on Satur­day be­fore switch­ing to nearby Tuam on Sun­day.

Clerk of the course Kieran Dono­hue said prepa­ra­tions are well ad­vanced de­spite be­ing ham­pered by the re­cent im­passe over the pub­lic li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance is­sue, which has since been re­solved by Mo­tor­sport Ire­land.

“We had to hold out un­til the in­sur­ance is­sue was sorted,” said Dono­hue. “That has placed the en­tire or­gan­is­ing team un­der a huge amount of un­fair pres­sure as we have tried to put ev­ery­thing to­gether.

“Hav­ing said that, our plans are com­ing along well; it prom­ises to be an­other very ex­cit­ing Gal­way Rally.

“We have been in the same area for the last few years, so I wanted to change the stages up to give the com­peti­tors some­thing of a new chal­lenge. Some of the stages have not been used in around 16 years.”

Pho­tos: Roy Demp­ster, Jakob Ebrey, Wil­liam Neill, Ral­lyretro

Jen­nings broke poor run in Gal­way with 2016 vic­tory Machale: Se­cond win in ’91

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