Alastair Fisher has secured third place overall in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, to add to his third place in the British series.
Fisher's result on the Cork International secured the top three finish in his first year in a Group N Mitsubishi Evo 9, although he frustratingly missed out on the overall Group N championship by half a point, after mechanical gremlins cost him valuable cost him dear on the season finale.
The rally started perfectly for Alastair and co-driver Barry McNulty, powering into a commanding Group N lead, and a fantastic third overall position behind the WRC cars of Eugene Donnelly and Gareth MacHale.
“We got into a good flow from the start,” he said. “The pace-notes worked well, and I was enjoying the fast flowing stages. The middle stage of the Saturday loop seemed to suit us. It was tighter, narrower and more technical and I was very happy with our times. Our set up and the Pirelli tyres also seemed to be well suited.”
Indeed the PPG Lancer was performing well, ending day one in fourth place overall, just behind Denis Cronin's WRC Subaru and having the accolade of being fastest Group N crew over all the nine stages. The Irish Tarmac Group N crown looked almost secure.
Rallying however can throw up cruel surprises, and on the first stage out on Sunday, a rare mechanical failure was to cost Alastair.
“About two miles into the first stage, the car started to gradually loose power, and we lost over two minutes in that stage,” he said. “On the next stage we lost over ten minutes, and spectators actually had to give us a push to get up a hill, as the car literally had no power. We limped through the next test and we were relieved to make service.”
A split ten pence o-ring seal in the fuel pump was the cause of the huge time loss. The split was causing low fuel pressure, and the subsequent loss of power, however the McGarrity Motorsport team with help from Keith Cronin's Ttec service crew replaced the damaged seal and fuel pump, restoring the Evo to full health.
With a healthy car, Fisher set to work posting fastest Group N times on all the remaining stages amazingly climbing back to tenth place overall despite the huge time loss, the points accumulated secured third overall in the Irish Tarmac Championship and also class N4 championship victory.
“At the finish we were proclaimed Group N championship winners, but we got a phone call while on our way home to say that there had been a miscalculation of the points in that Eugene Meegan was running a Group N3 Honda on the event and actually took second Group N points, so we ended up second overall in Group N by just half a point,” he said. “It's not a major issue everyone makes mistakes and it's quite easy to see how the organisers made the mistake once you read the regulations.
“Congratulations to Jer O'Donovan on his group N championship victory and thanks to all the people who congratulated us at the finish on winning the Group N championship. However it wasn't to be, its history now.”