Local drivers Garry Jennings and Alastair Fisher head the entry list for this weekend’s Galway International Rally.

The pair are seeded at number one and two for the opening round of the 2020 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, with Enniskillen navigator Barry McNulty entered alongside Cathan McCourt at number seven and William Mavitty seeded at 21.

Jennings will have number one on the door of his familiar Subaru S12B, and he will be hoping to take his third Galway Rally victory after topping the timesheets in 2016 and 2017.

His car is not eligible for championship points but he can win the event outright, and although he will be up against a high quality entry list packed with more modern R5 cars, he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I haven’t seen the stages but I’ve heard they are tricky narrow stages that won’t suit my car but that will be alright. I’ll just go and enjoy it,” he said.

“I was out for a run in the car and had Prodrive over checking the mapping, and it feels good and everything feels alright. The car felt very good and hopefully we will go down and have a good rally.”

Garry admitted he did consider switching to an R5 car for the event, but his reluctance to change to a left hand drive car was the deciding factor.

“I have no time to adjust to it so I decided to stick with the Subaru,” he revealed.

In contrast, Alastair Fisher will have a new car for the rally. He has left behind his Fiesta R5 and will tackle the event in a Volkswagen Polo R5.

The Polo was first seen in Ireland in September on the Cork 20 rally, but despite being a relative newcomer to the Irish rally scene, Alastair is hopeful he will be quickly up to speed.

“It’s very different to the Fiesta but it has a lot of potential,” he said.

“With a lot of the other drivers competing in new cars in Galway it is probably a bit more of a level playing field if we start off in a new car now. We have been used to the Fiesta for three or four seasons and the Polo definitely has different characteristics, but it’s a newer generation of R5 and it has small advances.”

Alastair has come close to winning the Irish Tarmac Championship in each of the past two years before falling short, but he has not yet committed to taking on the full series this year and will wait until after Galway before making a decision on his 2020 season plans.

“We have Galway planned and we will give it a go and see how we fare out,” he said.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure about the rest of the season because it is a big commitment for the whole year. We will see what way Galway goes and go from there.”

Barry McNulty will once again navigate for Cathan McCourt in the Ford Fiesta R5.

Last year the pair won the Irish Forestry Championship but they will return to the tarmac surfaces of Galway before heading to the first round of the British Rally Championship, the Cambrian Rally, the following week.

Willie Mavitty missed out on a hat-trick of Group N titles on the 2019 Irish Tarmac Championship when he lost the lead on the final round of the series, but he returns to Galway this year in his Mitsubishi looking to make a winning start as he battles to regain the title.

The Galway International rally takes place this Sunday and features nine stages totalling 120 kilometres of competitive driving, with the stages centralised around the town of Loughrea.