Alastair Fisher extended his lead at the top of the Irish Tarmac Rally championship with a third place finish on the West Cork Rally.

With eventual rally winner Donagh Kelly not eligible for championship points, Alastair’s podium finish earned him second place points to add to his maximum points haul on the opening round in Galway. For long spells however the Trillick driver looked as though he would lose his series lead, before late drama saw a dramatic change in the overall standings. Sam Moffett, Josh Moffett and Robert Barrable were all ahead of Alastair and co-driver Gordon Noble heading into the final loop of three stages and it looked as though fourth place was the best Alastair could hope for. All that changed on one corner however as a concealed stone inflicted punctures on both Sam Moffett and Robert Barrable.

“It turned out alright in the end for us,” admitted Alastair. “It was a rock on a left hander on the inside and seemingly there was about ten cars that hit it but we didn’t have any problems with it. Sometimes we can be the ones sitting on the side of the road so it was nice it went our way this time.”

Up to that decisive moment Alastair had struggled to replicate his rally winning pace of Galway, and he admitted he was frustrated not to be on the pace of the front runners in his class. “We didn’t get fully into it on the Saturday and didn’t settle into the pace,” he said. “We didn’t have big confidence to push. Conditions were mainly dry on Saturday and in the afternoon it turned damp, and then wet on Saturday night. We went a bit too hard with our tyres on the night stage and that didn’t help us. On Sunday it was generally wet and we were back up to more of our normal speed. We were consistently setting stage times that were second or third fastest, but at the same time we knew we were out of the race and weren’t going to pull it back simply on stage times so we weren’t making a massive push. We knew we had to try to make the most of where we were and get back to the finish with as many points as possible. In the end up it was surprising. We went with a three point lead and came home with a five point lead, so that will all count come the end of the year.”

Willie Mavitty was hoping to secure a Group N win in his Mitsubishi but he endured a fraught first day, with a serious of mechanical problems sending him plummeting down the leader board. From a strong start where he was lying 13th overall and within six seconds of class leader David Guest, Willie fell to a lowly 95th overnight. “The rear drive shaft broke about two miles into the Ring stage,” he explained. “We had to limp the car home through stage three and four to get back to service. We got the shaft fixed in service but it had damaged the wheel speed sensor which meant our diff wasn’t working. We got that fixed and then got a flat wheel on stage six. We lost about eight mins in total.” The problems cost Willie any chance of a class win, but he mounted a recovery drive on Sunday as he climbed back to 19th overall and third in class.