Garry Jennings is hoping to make it back-to-back victories on the Galway International Rally this weekend. The Kesh driver will be behind the wheel of his Lakeland tyres backed Subaru for the first round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, and he will be hoping to repeat his 2016 success alongside navigator Rory Kennedy.

Although Garry is not eligible for Championship points in his Subaru, he is determined to mark the start of the season with a second Galway success. “It would be nice to win it again,” he acknowledged. “There is no championship to worry about, but I won it last year and I want to go back again. I had to bring the trophy down anyway so I might as well do it when I’m there!”

Garry’s main competition for the rally win is expected to come from Declan Boyle in his Fiesta WRC, but the Fermanagh driver believes it is not just a two horse race, with the less powerful R5 cars also set to challenge in conditions that are always treacherous.

“I’m expecting it to be wet and slippery as it always is in Galway,” said Garry. “We will have to see if it dries up like it did last year, but I know it will be a dogfight no matter what the conditions are like. You have Roy White there as well as Declan Boyle and obviously all the R5 cars. They have come on a lot from last year and I don’t think they will be far away.”

Garry is just home from a testing trip to Sweden where he was assisting with the development of Mitsubishi’s R5 car, and although he has no firm plans for the season after Galway he admits he might bring the R5 car back to Ireland before the end of 2017.

“We will do Galway and we have a couple of things in the pipeline with Mitsubishi,” he revealed. “If we can get the car sorted before the end of the year then I would like to bring it over and maybe do a few events. Maybe a couple of rounds of the National or some forestry.”

While Garry is focussed on the rally win, Alastair Fisher’s target for the season is championship success. The Trillick driver came agonisingly close to winning the Irish Tarmac title for the first time last year only to crash out on the final round, and he hopes to put that right this season, starting with maximum points in Galway.

Last season’s champion Keith Cronin has not entered the rally and looks unlikely to mount a defence of his title, so Alastair’s main competition is likely to come from the Moffett brothers Josh and Sam.

Willie Mavitty is another local driver contesting the event, as is Jon Armstrong who will drive a R2 Ford Fiesta for M-Sport as part of a development programme for a planned new one make series aimed at providing a more affordable option for drivers.

“It’s the new car that M Sport are putting out,” revealed Jon.

“They were planning to run the championship in Ireland this year but it think it was late coming through and there was no one registered for it, so they are looking to promote it and maybe get a few customers for it. It was nice to be asked to do it by M Sport. You can see how well they are doing now in the World Championship so it’s nice to get asked to do something like this and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think I’m going to get a chance to drive the car before the rally, but it is very similar to the car I drove last year except it has less power and standard suspension.

“There are a few other R2 cars doing it but we are 150 brake and they are 190 so it’s a fair difference and we are running a standard suspension as well, so it will be hard to know what the pace is going to be like,” concluded Jon The international ally has a capacity entry of over 100 cars and features nine special stages on Saturday, and another six stages on Sunday.