Alastair Fisher’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship challenge is over for 2022 after he crashed out of the lead of the Cork 20 International Rally.

The Volkswagen Polo driver went into the penultimate round of the series knowing nothing less than a victory would prolong his title hopes into the final round, and he looked to be on course for his second victory of the season when he held the overnight lead.

That ended abruptly two kilometres from the end of Sunday’s opening stage, when he put his Polo off the road.

“We were a bit late on the brakes into a left hander after a fast section and it was an off camber corner over a crest,” he recalled.

“We ran wide and there was a bank about 10 feet high on the edge of the road and we hit it. There was no ditch and no run off, and we broke the suspension on the right hand side and that was the end of that. It closes the championship off for us. That is us done now.”

The 2022 Championship fight has been a memorable one, with Fisher, Callum Devine and series leader Josh Moffett producing some of the closest Irish rallying seen for many years. Cork was no different as the trio once again traded seconds at the top of the leader board on the dry tarmac stages.

Fisher first took the lead of the event after stage two but Moffett edged back ahead on stage six, with Devine only two seconds adrift of the leader. The rally took a swing in Fisher’s favour on stage seven when an unexpected shower of rain left all the front runners on the wrong tyres. Fisher took advantage of the conditions to take control of the rally and establish an overnight lead of 17 seconds.

“We kept in the mix on the early part of Saturday because we hadn’t done those stages before and everyone else had, and that gave us a bit of confidence,” said Fisher. “When the rain came down we were all on slicks, but we were able to make them work and we set a good pace in the wet. It fell our way and the feeling was good. We were having a good run.”

Fisher’s off road excursion is his third in successive events, and despite his undoubted pace throughout a season where he has challenged for the win on almost every event, he only has a victory on the Circuit of Ireland Rally to show for his Tarmac Championship efforts.

“Killarney, West Cork and Donegal all escaped me,” he admitted. “It’s just such fine margins and we were on the wrong side of it. It is good racing. Callum and Josh were having moments as well and that is the level it is at now. There is nothing left.”