Ulster trio endure nightmare at Rally of Portugal
The Rally of Portugal brought heartbreak for the trio of Ulster drivers, all three failing to finish the fourth round of the World championship.
As World champion Sebastien Ogier took his third win of the season for Volkswagen, there were cruel endings for Alastair Fisher and Marty McCormack, who had both being going strongly in the WRC3 and WRC2 divisions.
For the third year in a row, Fisher led the two-wheel drive category but again his bad luck struck, his Citroen going off the road on the last of the Saturday stages while comfortably in front. The DGM team reported the suspension of the car had been damaged on the previous stage and he was struggling to keep it under control.
McCormack, tackling the Portuguese event for the first time and making his debut in an R5 Ford Fiesta, had climbed into the top 20 and eighth in WRC2 when a puncture on the penultimate stage ended his rally.
Earlier, Kris Meeke's nightmare season continued when he crashed out on the final stage of the first leg – his fourth accident in three WRC events.
Making his first appearance in Portugal, Meeke struggled after his pacenote preparation had been hampered by the torrential rain which swamped the route earlier in the week. In addition, his co-drive Paul Nagle was unwell with a vomiting bug, so his target was simply to stay out of trouble.
But he was caught out by a notorious stretch of road on the Almodovar stage, a place where both Elfyn Evans and former Canadian Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica had crashed their Fords earlier.