Belfast Telegraph

World Rally Championship: Fisher aiming to be on top of the world

By Sammy Hamill

Alastair Fisher is to move to the World Rally Championship stage in 2011.

The 22-year-old Trillick driver has been accepted for the new WRC Academy series and will contest six rounds of the World Championship this year in an R2 Ford Fiesta.

Nephew of the late rally legend Bertie Fisher, he is the current Irish Tarmac production champion, a title he won driving a 4x4 Group N Mitsubishi Lancer.

Memorably, he led the Circuit of Ireland into its final leg before finishing third last Easter and went on to score his first outright victory on the Lakeland Rally. He also finished third overall in the British Championship.

But he is no stranger to two-wheel-drive and Ford Fiestas having won the Irish Fiesta ST series in 2007 as well as finishing runner-up in the UK version. Some may see returning to Fiestas as a step backwards for one of Britain’s brightest young talents but Fisher’s dad Ivan doesn’t agree.

“We don’t see it as a backward step to return to two-wheel-drive. Yes, Alastair has had good results since he moved up to the Mitsubishi but two-wheel-drive seems to be the preferred path being set out by the FIA,” he explained.

“The Academy is where the next generation of World championship drivers is going to come from and it is where we think Alastair should be if he is going to progress.”

The WRC Academy will see 24 drivers contest six rounds of the championship, starting with the Rally of Portugal in March. All will drive identical Fiestas prepared by Ford’s M-Sport organisation.

Already 14 of the places have been allocated and include Rally Northern Ireland winner Craig Breen and Australian Molly Taylor, girlfriend of another top Irish driver Marty McCormack.

“My main objective in contesting the WRC Academy is to gain as much experience as I can of these six events on a level playing field,” said Alastair.

“I know it’s going to be a very big challenge but it’s a great opportunity to broaden my experience.”

Because testing of the Academy Fiestas is outlawed, Fisher will have access to a spare car, which he is planning to use for a programme of national level events at home.

Fisher, who is combining his WRC Academy campaign with studying an honours degree in Construction, Engineering and Management at the University of Ulster, has recruited English co-driver Daniel Barritt to partner him.

Belfast Telegraph

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