Jennings leads battle in Letterkenny

The battle for supremacy in the Joule Donegal International Rally in Letterkenny is finely poised with just 3.2 seconds separating overnight leaders Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings (S12B Subaru WRC) and co-driver Rory Kennedy from the Ford Focus WRC of the Donegal/Derry partnership of Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan. 

Jennings leads battle in Letterkenny

Top seeds and Donegal duo, cousins Declan and Brian Boyle on their debut drive in a Ford Fiesta WRC are third — some 17.3 seconds further behind.

On the 13km opening stage, only 1.5 seconds separated Jennings and Boyle. Kelly was just 0.2 secs behind in third. The top three opened a gap on the rest with Derek McGarrity 9.1 seconds further adrift.

Kelly upped the pace and set the best times on the remaining pair of stages of the loop. The Donegal man, despite a major moment on SS3, arrived at the Letterkenny service park with a lead of 3.2 seconds over Jennings. Boyle occupied third 8.4 seconds off the lead.

Seamus Leonard had the McKinstry hired S14 Subaru in fourth. Having made adjustments to the suspension Cork driver Daragh O’Riordan held fifth.

Traversing most of the third stage without brakes, Derek McGarrity (Subaru WRC) completed the top six with Stephen Wright’s Fiesta R5 in seventh spot.

Jennings dominated the repeat loop, leading SS 4. The times for stage five were scrubbed due to a timing glitch. In wet conditions for the day’s final stage Kelly backed off on the last few kilometres but said: “I’m not here to finish second. I’d rather be the hound than the hare.”

Elsewhere, Leonard, McGarrity and O’Riordan rounded off the top six. Tommy Doyle crashed his Skoda out of seventh on SS5.

In the National section, Declan Gallagher crashed out on SS6 leaving Gary McPhillips (Ford Escort) in top spot. There are eight stages today and six tomorrow.

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