Garry Jennings took his first victory on the Cartell.ie International Rally of the Lakes over the May Bank Holiday weekend when he had 51.4 seconds to spare from Derek McGarrity who on turn was just 0.5 seconds ahead of Donagh Kelly, all three in Subaru Impreza WRCs. It was certainly a dramatic weekends rallying over two days and fifteen very tough stages based around Rathmore the first day and the famous Beara Peninsula the second day. The attrition rate was very high, which was an indicator of how Killarney has never lost its ability to provide the unexpected.
Daragh O’Riordan was top seed in his Fiesta WRC and led the event from the word go, despite the best efforts of Jennings and Thomas Fitzmaurice to reel him in. Declan Boyle and Donagh Kelly were both first time competitors in Killarney and their main aim for the weekend was to stay out of trouble and gain valuable championship points. However Boyles event ended on the second stage when his gearbox failed. Thomas Fitzmaurice had belied his lack of seat time since Galway by lying second to O’Riordan in the early stages until his power steering gave trouble on the fourth stage to drop him to fourth overall.
Worse was to follow for Fitzmaurice and his co-driver Fionn Foley when they crashed heavily on stage 5 Gortnagagne. Both crew members were hospitalized but are now on the road to recovery, and hopefully they’ll be back out on the stages in the not too distant future. At the close of the first day O’Riordan and Jennings traded times with the former leading by just 7.4 seconds overnight. Donagh Kelly held third from Derek McGarrity who was still trying to recover from a time consuming puncture on the first stage. Alan Ring held fifth place in his Lancer and was leading Group N, with Sam Moffett and Stephen Wright not too far away.
O’Riordan started the second day by blazing his way to fastest on Molls Gap a full twelve seconds clear of Kelly and McGarrity and eighteen clear of Jennings. However his rally was to end when he slid off the road on the ninth stage (Healy Pass). This left Jennings with a very comfortable lead with six tough stages to go. McGarrity was hoping his experience of the Cods Head and Ardgroom stages would allow him to cut the gap to Kelly, but his bid was hampered by power steering problems. Alan Ring now moved to fourth overall and had a forty second buffer back to Sam Moffett while Stephen Wright was a further forty seconds back. Jennings kept it all together and in the end had a comfortable lead. The battle for second place went down to the wire with McGarrity finally edging ahead on the penultimate stage, only for Kelly to attempt to wrest it back on the last. In the end McGarrity had just done enough to pip his rival by just 0.5 of a second.
Alan Rings rally ended in disappointment on the second run over Cods Head with mechanical failure which promoted Sam Moffett to fourth overall and winner of the Group N category. Stephen Wright and Josh Moffett in their Lancers rounded off the top six. A fine drive from Stephen Carey netted him seventh with Willie Mavitty taking eighth place overall. In the modified category Frank Kelly lost several minutes on the first stage with a broken wheel rim, and despite setting some fastest times, was forced to retire on the final stage of the first day. This left Fergus O’Meara to take his second maximum score in two rounds and will be very hard to stop now in his bid for the modified championship. Wesley Patterson won the FIA Historic section of the event and was also the top registered Historic driver over the weekend. This, coupled with James O’Mahonys retirement has blown the Historic championship wide open before the trip to Donegal.
Tarmac Championship Points after 2 rounds
1 – Garry Jennings 30
2 – Derek McGarrity 26
3 – Keith Cronin 24
4 – Donagh Kelly 22.5
5 – Eugene Donnelly 18
Modified Championship Points after 2 rounds
1 – Fergus O’Meara 30
2 – Billy Coogan 16
3 – David Armstrong 12
Historic Championship Points after 2 rounds
1 – Wesley Patterson 30
2 – James O’Mahony 25
3 – John Spiers 24