Lakeland Stages Rally: Alastair Fisher wins out in unexpected Lakeland battle
It was meant to be a ‘practice run’ but it turned into an epic battle in the forests of Fermanagh.
Mitsubishi drivers Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer intended using the Lakeland Stages Rally as preparation for the final round of the British championship in Yorkshire in two weeks time but ended up in a enthralling dogfight.
Perhaps appropriately it was Fisher who won — but by just one second — for this was a rally which is so closely associated with his family and is traditionally sponsored by Fisher Engineering, the Ballinamallard company founded by his grandfather.
Not that sentiment played any part in Greer’s thinking as he wrestled the lead away from Fisher with just two stages left on Saturday afternoon.
But the 22-year-old nephew of former Lakelands winner Bertie Fisher wasn’t to be denied and he launched a massive charge through the Carrigans and Ballintempo stages to overhaul British championship leader Greer, also 22, and grab his first ‘home’ win by the tiniest of margins.
In fact, Fisher was so fast over the 11 miles of Carrigans that he beat the ‘bogey’ time by eight seconds but only gained a second on Greer to leave them level going into the final test. But again Fisher was fractionally faster to take the win by a one-second margin. And such was the speed of the two youngsters in their production Lancers that they outpaced third placed former champion Kenny McKinstry in his WRC Subaru S8 by over a minute.
Donagh Kelly, winner of the previous round of the series, was fourth in his Mitsubishi with Martin Cairns fifth in another WRC Subaru.
Stuart Biggerstaff strengthen his lead in the Hankook NI championship, climbing from 11th to sixth through the second half of the rally in his Subaru while closest rival Mark Donnelly (Mitsubishi) lost ground as he faded to finish in 10th with a down-on-power engine.
Adrian Hetherington won the two-wheel-drive category in eighth in his Ford Escort with Marc Johnston (eighth) and Errol Clarke (ninth) completed the top 10 in their Mitsubishis.
But there was disappointment for Neil McCance with his bid to win the Irish Mitsubishi Challenge on the final round in Wexford ending in retirement.
The Comber driver was in fourth place overall and comfortably leading his closest Challenge rivals Sam Moffett and Brendan Cumiskey until mechanical trouble sidelined his Lancer. Moffett went on to finish third and take the title.