Garry Jennings is hopeful that a return to the podium is not far away, after his fourth-place finish on Omagh Motor Club’s Bushwacker Rally.

The former Irish Forestry Champion had struggled to match the pace of the frontrunners in his previous outings in the British Rally Championship this season, but on the forests around Omagh on Saturday he was back fighting for the lead after making some changes to the set-up of his Fiesta R5.

“I was never there or thereabouts when I was on those rallies in England, but we did a bit of work on the car and tightened up the diffs, and changed to the restrictor all the other boys were using, and it makes a huge difference.

“Once I changed that I was on the pace. I enjoyed it and it has given me a bit of confidence, and I’m looking forward to getting out again,” explained Garry.

Third-quickest time on the opening test demonstrated his competitiveness, and although he slipped back to fourth after the next stage, he was back in a podium position by the halfway point of the six-stage rally.

His expected fight for the top spot over the closing stages did not materialise however as he suffered car problems on the second half of the event, eventually losing out to Vivian Hammill in the fight for third by less than a second.

“I had a bit of bother with the car, the first bit of car problems I have had in a long time,” he revealed.

“She kept sticking in fifth gear on me, and three or four times I had to stop at a junction and beat at her until she came out of fifth.

“I knew I was on the pace and when I came out of service and I was confident, but then that happened and I knew that was it over.

‘A bit annoyed’

“I was a bit annoyed at losing third. I thought I could have held it, but on the last stage at the first junction she stuck in gear and I had to stop and play with it for ten seconds to get back down the box again, and that put me out of contention for third.”

Shane McGirr was another local competitor locked in a close battle for class honours, with the Starlet driver taking third place in the two wheel drive category after Frank Kelly pipped him by 0.2 seconds on the final stage.

Drew Chambers took a class win in his Peugeot 206, while Michael McDaid and James McGovern both claimed second in their respective classes.

Marc Johnston was the early leader of class five but retired midway through the rally, while Lisbellaw’s William Graham took third in class in his Corsa, and Jonny Leonard claimed forth in class six.