Alastair Fisher heads into this weekend’s Rally of Scotland buoyed up by his first victory in the World championship feeder series, the WRC Academy.
The civil engineering graduate from the University of Ulster hopes to build on his Rally France success as he switches cars, championships and surfaces to tackle Britain’s round of the Intercontinental Challenge starting in Stirling tomorrow night.
His Academy R2 Ford Fiesta has returned to its base in Poland and Fisher steps up on an S2000 version, the same M-Sport car in which he finished second on the Donegal International back in June.
“We might be switching from tarmac to gravel for Scotland but I’m looking forward to being back in the S2000 Fiesta again and I’ll start the rally full of confidence and with a good rhythm after my result in France,” he said.
Fisher has been one of the fastest drivers in the Academy series all season but it was only in France that he got his just rewards with a first win although he admits it didn’t happen the way he had hoped.
It was Craig Breen, last year’s Rally NI winner, who led convincingly until his Fiesta hit a bank, breaking a driveshaft and forcing his retirement. Yeray Lemes took over in front and finished 40 seconds ahead of Fisher but the Spaniard was subsequently penalised for speeding on a public road section and relegated to third.
“This wasn’t the way I wanted to claim my first WRC Academy victory but after all the bad luck I’ve had this year it was nice to get some good luck for a change,” he said. “It wasn’t my best rally in terms of stage times but the plan was always to concentrate on finishing and not take too many risks so winning was a real bonus.”
It moved him up to fourth in the Academy standing but despite losing out in France, Breen stays second going into the final round.
But first he and Fisher go head-to-head again in Scotland, the young Waterford driver also switching to the S2000 Fiesta.
They are joined, too, by the S2000 Skoda Fabias of Jonny Greer and Robert Barrable as well as the Renault Clio of Mark Donnelly in a Scottish line-up which sees Czech Jan Kopecky defending his championship lead over Freddy Loix and Thierry Neuville in the penultimate round of the IRC series.