| 8.9°C Belfast

Alastair Fisher's title dream in danger of being crushed as Irish series set to be cancelled



In vain: Alastair Fisher won in Galway but the rest of the series may be axed

In vain: Alastair Fisher won in Galway but the rest of the series may be axed

In vain: Alastair Fisher won in Galway but the rest of the series may be axed

Winning the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and emulating his famous uncle has been Alastair Fisher's ambition for the past few years.

Nephew of the great Bertie Fisher, it looked like Alastair had an outstanding opportunity this year after he recorded his first outright win of Ireland's premier series in Galway back in February.

But now it seems certain the coronavirus lockdown, which has brought all motorsport to a halt, will force the cancellation of the Championship and deny Fisher the chance to add his name to the roll of honour.

The following three rounds after Galway - West Cork Rally, Circuit of Ireland and Rally of the Lakes - were all called off at the direction of the Irish and UK motorsport authorities and although, officially, the situation will be re-assessed at the end of June, the decision of the Donegal International organisers to postpone their event scheduled for June 19-21 is expected to end hopes that even a truncated Championship can take place.

The Ulster International in August and the Cork '20' at the end of September remain on the calendar for now but Coleman Hegarty, chairman of the Tarmac Rally Organisers' Association, has said: "I think we need four events to have a viable Championship. Nobody knows when sport will return and given the current situation it's insignificant at this point in time."

If Hegarty is right, at least one of the postponed events would have to be re-arranged to constitute "a viable Championship" and none has so far indicated they are pursuing this option.

Additionally, the governments on both sides of the Irish Sea have suggested that social distancing measures and restrictions on large gatherings may have to be maintained until the end of the year, making it impossible to run rallies.

It is a similar situation with the British Championship, which should have included the West Cork and Ulster events. Only the Cambrian Rally in Wales has taken place and much may depend on whether the third scheduled round, the Ypres Rally in mid-June, goes ahead.

There has been no decision so far but considering Belgium is suffering badly from Covid-19 and the rally centres around the town square of historic Ypres, it seems unlikely it will take place.

Perhaps anticipating the series being called off, the UK organisers have launched a virtual four-round Championship which is open to all Motorsport UK licence holders.

They are also planning an invitational series featuring regular Championship contenders including champion Matt Edwards and Ulster's BRC Junior champion Josh McErlean.

Edwards, like Fisher, may have to wait until next year to chase the real Championship.

Belfast Telegraph