Lakeland Stages Rally Report

11 September 2010

Fisher claims narrow Lakeland win while Biggerstaff scores maximum Hankook points!


Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble claimed victory at Saturday's Fisher Engineering Lakeland Stages Rally, round seven of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship!


It was a hard earned win for Fisher, who recently secured the Irish Tarmac Group N title aboard his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. With the car switched to gravel settings for the eight-stage Lakeland event, Fisher was embroiled in a battle with British Rally Championship leaders, Jonny Greer and Dai Roberts.


Going into the final stage, the two crews were on level terms, but it was Fisher who sealed the rally victory by one second at the finish!


"It's my first rally victory in the Evo," a jubilant Fisher said afterwards. "The last event that I won was the Enniskillen Clubman Rally in 2008 with the Fiesta."


It was nip and tuck between Fisher and Greer throughout the day. The two crews were never separated by more than a handful of seconds, with Fisher taking the early lead by one second after the opening stage.


After setting equal fastest times on stage two, Fisher managed to increase his lead by another second on the third stage, and he repeated that feat on stage four.


Then Carryduff's Greer upped the ante on stage five by swiping two seconds out of his rival. One stage later, it was Greer who held the rally lead by one second, while Fisher was in second position.


With two fastest times in a row, the momentum appeared to be swinging in Greer's favour, but Fisher had other ideas.


Through the 11-mile stage seven, the timesheets show that Fisher nipped one second out of Greer. However, he had actually taken nine seconds out of his rival but in the process, he had beaten the bogey time. As a result, he was awarded the slower 'bogey time', leaving the crews on equal terms going into the final stage.


The final stage was a repeat run through the 4.6 mile Ballintempo test, where Fisher had been one second faster than Greer earlier in the day. Despite losing third gear midway through the stage, Fisher repeated that feat to seal the rally win by one second from Greer!


Outside the raging battle between the leading two pilots, Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull held third overall throughout the day. They could do nothing about the flying Evo men in front, and finished 54 seconds adrift of the rally winners.


Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan secured fourth overall ahead of Martin Cairns and Andrew Purcell but in terms of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship, sixth placed Stuart Biggerstaff and Anthony Nestor secured their first maximum points haul of the season.


Biggerstaff mounted a huge charge through the closing stages, moving up six places over the final two tests. The result saw Biggerstaff extend his championship lead, while navigator Anthony Nestor moved to the top of the co-drivers' standings.


Marc Johnston and Colin Harkness were second among the championship points scorers, and also claimed maximum points in the Sunoco Fuels Group N category.


Mark Donnelly and Sean Ferris arrived home as third placed points scorers ahead of Cyril Doherty and Graham Henderson. Donnelly maintained second position in the series standings, while Doherty moved up to third position.


In the two-wheel-drive category, Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan secured the top award, as well as seventh overall, in their Mark 2 Escort. They were embroiled in a battle with Frank Kelly and Liam Brennan, but an overshoot on stage seven saw Kelly drop out of contention.


The Montgomery Motorsport historic category saw both Andy Johnson and Tommy O'Connell retire from the event. Johnson retired his Chevette with a broken half-shaft, while O'Connell exited the rally before the first stage with engine problems.


Crews are now gearing up for round eight of the series which takes competitors to Omagh for the McKelvey Bushwhacker Rally on 25 September. 


Jonathan MacDonald



Top 10 overall results

  1. Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble (Lancer) 41m13s
  2. Jonny Greer/Dai Roberts (Lancer) 41m14s
  3. Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Impreza WRC) 42m07s
  4. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Lancer) 42m37s
  5. Martin Cairns/Andrew Purcell (Impreza WRC) 43m32s
  6. Stuart Biggerstaff/Anthony Nestor (Impreza WRC) 43m37s
  7. Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Escort Mk2) 43m43s
  8. Marc Johnston/Colin Harkness (Lancer) 43m47s
  9. Errol Clarke/Barry McNulty (Lancer) 43m53s
  10. Mark Donnelly/Sean Ferris (Lancer) 43m54s


Hankook N.I. Championship standings (after round 7 of 10)

  1. Stuart Biggerstaff 61pts
  2. Mark Donnelly 47pts
  3. Cyril Doherty 40pts
  4. Derek McGarrity 36pts
  5. Drew Stewart 29pts
Posted by PMcCollum on 16/9/2010; Last updated by PMcCollum on 16/9/2010