Mark Fisher recorded a second place finish on the Bulldog Rally as his groundwork for Britain's round of the world championship stepped up another gear on the weekend.

The 27-year old Ulsterman may not have been using the potent Peugeot 206WRC that he will drive on the Rally Great Britain - the second part of his prize for winning last year's Super 106 Cup - but propelled a familiar GpA Subaru Impreza to a rostrum spot nonetheless. The rally utilised several stages reminiscent of those that will form the bulk of the Cardiff-based WRC event next month, and included such famous names as Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Dyfnant.

"The Bulldog was ideal preparation for the Rally Great Britain," Fisher said, "and getting to grips with the muddy, slippery surfaces will stand me in good stead. Contesting an actual event also has advantages over just testing a car, as all the circumstances and variables which occur on a rally are so different to cope with. I feel that this event went very well - the pace and speed of the car was similar, while we will also use this combination of stages again."

Having added another second place to that he earned on the South Wales-based Enterprise Rally earlier in the year, Fisher now moves on to a testing programme with the WRC-leading 206. The car has just taken back-to-back event wins in the hands of Frenchman Gilles Panizzi on the tarmac stages of Corsica and Italy, and Fisher gets his hands on his car from 9 November.

Five days are planned at various sites around South Wales, before the event begins in earnest on 24 November. Three legs radiating from the Cardiff headquarters make up the event, including just under 250 miles of competitive stages, including a newly built SuperSpecial in Cardiff's dockland area.

Fisher goes into the event hoping that he has better luck than on his WRC debut with the Peugeot. Contesting the tough Acropolis Rally in June, the Irish driver was lying in an impressive 18th overall when a broken wishbone, followed by an onboard fire, prevented him from reaching the first service halt and forced him out of the rally.