“Fisher name could win ITRC again”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

t’s just a few weeks to go to un­til the Done­gal In­ter­na­tional Rally and it is all to play for in the Ir­ish Tar­mac Cham­pi­onship.

Out­right vic­tory on this colos­sal rally in the Ir­ish cal­en­dar may go to one of the old estab­lished Ti­tans in their World Rally Cars – Don­agh Kelly, Garry Jen­nings and De­clan Boyle spring to mind – but there will be just as much in­ter­est in the new breed of driv­ers and the R5 cars. That, for the mo­ment, is where the pin­na­cle of Ir­ish Ral­ly­ing lies.

Alas­tair Fisher in his Dom Buck­ley-pre­pared Ford Fi­esta R5 leads the Tar­mac points. Snap­ping at his heels are Sam Mof­fett, Stephen Wright, Josh Mof­fett and Keith Cronin in that or­der.

Just 12.5 points sep­a­rate the top five, with 16 points for a win, and six from seven rounds to count. Done­gal is round four. All of the top five com­peti­tors have had at least one case of mis­for­tune, in­clud­ing Alas­tair Fisher. He and co-driver Gor­don Noble crashed out of West Cork when bat­tling with Keith Cronin.

Alas­tair, with steely de­ter­mi­na­tion, has got his cham­pi­onship back on track. He took max­i­mum scores on the Cir­cuit of Ire­land and the In­ter­na­tional Rally of the Lakes. When Alas­tair’s un­cle, Ber­tie Fisher, his son Mark and daugh­ter Emma, per­ished in a he­li­copter ac­ci­dent in 2001, Alas­tair was just 12 years old. It was the most tragic of hap­pen­ings.

Ber­tie was a leg­end in his own life­time, not just in his four Tar­mac Rally cham­pion crowns, but in his in­tegrity, busi­ness acu­men and his gift for largescale struc­tural en­gi­neer­ing, which turned Fisher En­gi­neer­ing into an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned com­pany. Alas­tair works in the same Bal­li­na­mal­lard fac­tory, now with the name Sev­er­field (NI) above the door. He com­mented: “I’ve been in and out of the work­shops since my younger days, and, al­though I’m in the of­fice now, I do have a good in­ter­est.”

In­deed, Alas­tair seems to have the same at­trac­tion to the challenge of con­struc­tion as Ber­tie did.

Alas­tair also has the same traits, in that not only can he drive a rally car hard and fast, he is a man of few words whose ac­tions speak for him. Backed by his fa­ther Ivan, he ap­proaches the rally year in a struc­tured, pro­fes­sional man­ner. He has had a cou­ple of seasons in the WRC, in the Fi­es­tas and the Citroen Academy, and came close to suc­cess with great bat­tles against El­fyn Evans and Stephen Le­feb­vre. He doesn’t rule out an­other crack at some­thing in the WRC, but for this year the sole in­tent is the Tar­mac Cham­pi­onship, plus a lit­tle mat­ter of get­ting mar­ried to his long-time girl­friend, Fiona.

When we asked him if there was any chance of com­pet­ing on the Scot­tish Rally, which he won three years ago, he ruled it out com­pletely. It is just one week be­fore his wed­ding. He would, though, con­sider a gravel rally be­fore the year is out.

For the mo­ment, the pri­or­ity is Done­gal. He has a good pedi­gree in that famed County. He won the Fi­esta R2s there in 2007 and tasted suc­cess in Let­terkenny in 2011 on his way to win­ning Group N on the Tar­mac cham­pi­onship. He was sec­ond over­all in 2013 driv­ing the rel­a­tively new Ford Fi­esta S2000 against a plethora of World Rally Cars. Rory Kennedy was the co-driver on that one.

Done­gal, a wonderful and dra­matic rally arena for his late un­cle, could un­fold into an­other sig­nif­i­cant chap­ter for the Fisher name. This time, how­ever, with Alas­tair’s name fully in the spot­light.


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