Garry Jennings claimed his first overall rally win in over four years when he took top spot on the Go Tour of the Sperrins Rally on Saturday. The Kesh driver set fastest times on five of the event’s six stages to take the win by five seconds over Johnny Greer, with Desi Henry claiming third overall.

It was only Jennings’ third competitive outing in his new Ford Focus Rally2 car. He made the switch from his older model Fiesta just before Easter, and after finishing ninth on the Circuit of Ireland and fourth on the May Day Stages Rally at St Angelo, he was not expecting to leap to the top of the leader board on Saturday’s Magherafelt based event.

“I didn’t go there to win,” he admitted. “I wanted to get onto the pace, but then when I found out I was so close it was nice to stay in there.

"I didn’t go expecting to win and even on the last stage I thought that second place would have been a good enough result, but when you are in there it was good to be able to grasp it.”

Jennings was just over one second adrift of Greer on the first stage, but his first fastest time of the day on stage two had wiped out that deficit, and he reached the midpoint service after stage three with an advantage of almost two seconds.

He continued to post quickest times over the repeated loop of three stages, eking out half a second on stage four and two more seconds on the fifth test.

A time half a second faster than the rest of the chasing pack confirmed his victory, but he admitted his win would not have happened had his service crew not found the source of an engine misfire that had plagued him since his previous rally at St Angelo.

“The car was missing on the airfield,” he explained. “They thought they had it sorted, but we brought it down to the rally on Friday night and she was still missing.

"They worked all Friday on her and found the activator in the turbo had burst a rubber seal, and when she was looking for boost she was losing it because of this hole in the activator. They found that about nine o’clock on Friday night, and on Saturday she was a different car.

"In those medium corners in fourth or fifth gear was pulling on through it instead of hanging on me. We had a couple of half spins, but that was just down to not having enough mileage in the car. I think the airfield helped me a lot. Even though she was missing I was able to slide it about and handbrake it, and that really helped at the weekend because I was able to carry speed through junctions.”

Jennings’ success bodes well for his chances on the Donegal International Rally in less than a month’s time. The showpiece event in the Irish rally calendar has always been Garry’s focus, and he continues his build up to the three day event in June by competing on this weekend’s Cavan Stages Rally.

Despite his win last weekend he is refusing to be drawn on whether he can win the international for the third time, but he is hopeful that his new car will at least allow him to challenge near the top of the time sheets.

“We are definitely going to compete,” he said. “We are going to Cavan this weekend but it will be just about concentrating on set up. I won’t be pushing too hard because if you do any damage in Cavan you won’t be fixed for Donegal, and its all about Donegal now.”