Alastair Fisher - Star Drive on the Isle of Man For 21 year old Fermanagh rally star, Alastair Fisher, last weekend's Rally Isle of Man, a round of the prestigious British Rally Championship, really was a star turn for the young up and coming ...
Alastair Fisher - Star Drive on the Isle of Man
For 21 year old Fermanagh rally star, Alastair Fisher, last weekend's Rally Isle of Man, a round of the prestigious British Rally Championship, really was a star turn for the young up and coming rally driver. With experienced co-driver Rory Kennedy alongside, Alastair in his Group N Mitsubishi Evo 9 returned to the TT Grandstand on Saturday with a magnificent third overall result, and to be awarded on the podium one of the prestigious Pirelli yellow jersey's, for the drive of the event. "It was a good rally for us" quipped Alastair. "The car felt good from the start, and really we put a lot of work in before the rally, with the recce also. It was important to mark out all the bumps, as you can be hitting them at very high speed on the Isle of Man. It's been a good season so far, and we have had good runs on the Pirelli and Jim Clark rallies in the British series, and Killarney and Donegal at home, but to get the Pirelli jersey on the Manx has been the highlight so far." The Pirelli jersey entitles Alastair a place on the end of season Pirelli shootout, where the winner receives a funded drive for the 2010 season, and ironically Alastair had a titanic battle for third place, with the 2008 shootout winner Adam Gould in his Pirelli Subaru. "It was a good race with Adam, and it's a pity he crashed out. We had the odd moment too, a couple of overshoots on the long stage on the first day, but generally it settled down after that."
The name Fisher, from Ballinamallard, and the Manx Rally have had a long affection with Irish rally fans, with his late Uncle Bertie, the four times Irish Tarmac Champion, so nearly winning the event on several occasions, and late cousin Mark also winning Group N on the island. Alastair isn't often asked about their influence, but he is very proud of their previous rally achievements. "It is something I'm proud of. Uncle Bertie had some great drives here, he was so unlucky not to win the rally, and many of those drives, Rory was alongside too. I remember Mark had a brilliant drive here in a Group N Evo 5 too. Yes it's something I don't talk a lot about, but I have many good memories growing up around the rallies, and for sure it's been a big influence." With Alastair's father Ivan also a top kart racer, and successful co-driver, Gerry McGarrity who ran Mark Fisher's cars preparing the Evo, and Bertie's old co-driver Rory Kennedy in the hot seat, the great Fisher tradition is being carried on in modern day rallying. For Alastair his first season in a Group N four wheel drive machine has been exceptional, but he also realises it's essentially a learning year. "We felt the time was right to move from my previous Fiesta to the Evo this season, and it's a matter of learning a bit, and picking up the pace stage by stage, which has been working. Obviously I wish to get as far up the ladder as possible, and for now my focus in on maintaining my third place in the British Rally Championship on the final two rounds on the Ulster and Trackrod rallies." At present Alastair also has another career to think about as he is a student of Construction Engineering at Queens University Belfast, but he has ambitions in rallying too.
"I think I need to build up my speed and experience, and the British Championship is a good series to contest for the stages and miles. On a greater scale, the IRC is very interesting, and of course the WRC, but I think these Super 2000 cars are quite exciting." Alastair's rally experience started with rally-sprints in his teens, and then he progressed to a Vauxhall Corsa rally car, before entering the Fiesta UK and Irish series, taking the Irish title, and missing the British on a tie break. "The Fiesta's were a great car to drive, and a great championship, ideal to build experience. I admit when I got into the Evo, at first it took a while to adjust to the speed of the car, and speed you can carry through corners with the four wheel drive, but as every stage goes I'm feeling happier, and happier. There is a bit of a break now before the Ulster International, but we may fit in something in between then, just to keep the game up."
For now Alastair, a member of the British Rally Elite is working on his fitness, and media skills, and he is looking ahead to the Ulster Rally, not only for the British series, but the Irish Tarmac Championship as well, as he now leads Group N in the series.