Alastair Fisher claimed his second runners-up finish of the season, finishing second behind Craig Breen on the West Cork Rally.

The final top two was a repeat of the result on the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Championship in Galway, and confirmed Fisher as the main challenger to the former Citroen World Rally Championship driver.

“We were very pleased with the performance over the whole weekend,” admitted Alastair, who pushed Breen all the way but finished 22 seconds adrift after two days and 15 special stages.

“He is tough to beat. We could have had a push to match him, but anything beyond that would be a big risk. All the cars are very similar and the pace really is right on the limit of how hard you can go.”

In wet and slippery conditions it took Alastair a stage to get up to the pace of the front runners, but he recovered quickly from a ninth fastest time on the rally opener.

He leapt up three places with a second fastest time on stage two and by stage six had recorded two fastest stage times and was up to second spot. It was a position he would hold for the remainder of the event.

“We had a bad time on the first stage,” he acknowledged.

“It was very wet and the car was set up too stiff and we didn’t have a good feeling with it at all and we lost 10 to 15 seconds. On stage two we were second quickest and we were on the pace for the majority of the weekend from then on. We were able to stay well in the mix and we had quickest times across both days.”

Alastair had a relatively trouble free run on an event that got the better of many of the crews.

“It was one of the top three toughest rallies we have ever competed on,” he reckoned.

“Everyone was saying the same thing, especially with the changing conditions. It was very challenging stages and they were very technical. They were fast and flowing as well so they had a mix of everything. There was a big attrition and something like half the cars didn’t make it home.”

The battle for the Irish Tarmac title now moves to the Antrim based Easter Stages, and with Craig Breen expected to contest the entire series unless he gets a call up to WRC level, it looks like it will be another head to head race to the chequered flag.

William Mavitty continued his march towards a third successive Irish Tarmac Group N title with another maximum points haul in his Mitsubishi.

The Enniskillen driver had Des Sherlock calling the notes for the first time, but he adapted quickly and raced into a commanding overnight lead despite the challenging conditions.

“This weekend I had a new co-driver on board so it took us a few stages to get settled in,” explained William.

“The weather this year made driving conditions more challenging, even on Saturday when the weather started to dry out there was so much muck and mud on the roads. As like Galway I appear to perform better on the mud and muck - it must be the farming coming out of me. We went to bed on Saturday night with over a minute of a lead and we had to just control the pace from then on to take the win and maximum points.”

Mavitty’s victory also leaves him out in front of the IRTC2 Celtic Trophy standings, and leading Group N in the Southern 4 plastic championships.

Local navigators Brian Hoy and Barry McNulty were also among the front runners in their R5 Fiestas.

After a season in the World Rally Championship Brian Hoy was back alongside Callum Devine on home soil, and they produced a trouble free run to sixth overall one place ahead of reigning Irish Tarmac Champion Josh Moffett. Barry McNulty was once again alongside Cathan McCourt in their Ford Fiesta R5, and they had a steady run to 12th overall.

They suffered gearbox trouble on the Sunday, but a change of the offending part in service saw them through to the finish.

Damian Campbell and Declan McGarrity were competing in the modified section of the rally in their Escort and they took fourth in class four.

Declan Campbell and Kevin Creighton got onto the podium in class 12, taking third spot.