Friday 23 February 2018

Motorsport: MacHale brothers on mission to reel in Fisher

Declan Quigley

The MacHale brothers, Gareth and Aaron, travel to Ulster this weekend with designs on Alistair Fisher's lead in the Citroen Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

Fisher retains an unlikely one-point lead over Gareth MacHale in the series heading to the penultimate round, the Ulster rally, with Aaron a further two points adrift in the race to emulate their father Austin as winner of Ireland's most prestigious rally championship.

While Fisher's title bid is a determined one, he remains an underdog given the fact that he will be using a Production category Group N Mitsubishi against the World Rally machinery of the MacHales.

Fisher is fighting on two fronts this weekend, as the event is also a counting round of the British Championship, where the Tyrone man is chasing series leader Gwyndaf Evans of Wales and Cork's reigning champion Keith Cronin.

The organising club NIMC are running several rallies at once on Saturday and Sunday, with the World Rally Cars taking part in the Ulster WRC Rally, which will run at the head of the field.


Gareth MacHale and Brian Murphy are seeded first in their Ford Focus WRC ahead of Derek McGarrity and James McKee. Daragh O'Riordan and Tony McDaid are next in line ahead of Aaron MacHale and Eugene O'Donnell.

Meanwhile, Rally NI incorporates the remainder of the Citroen Irish Tarmac Championship crews, as well as the British Rally Championship contenders. Evans and Phil Pugh are the top seeds ahead of Cronin, who has Barry McNulty calling the notes.

Fisher and Rory Kennedy are next in line ahead of Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts, with Jonny Greer and Dai Roberts completing the top five.

Results from the Ulster WRC Rally and Rally NI will be combined post-event for the purpose of awarding Citroen Irish Tarmac Championship points.

Breen, fresh from securing a place in the Mitsubishi World Finals in Germany last weekend, has an outside chance of the Tarmac series title and is also chasing success in the British series.

Further afield, Dunlop Racing Driver of the Year Patrick McKenna is targeting glory in the USF2000 series at Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this weekend.

McKenna is second, 22 points behind Sage Karam of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in the penultimate event of the series, which carries a top prize of a fully paid drive in the Star Mazda series next season.

Meanwhile, Barry Travers can wrap up the Fiat Punto 1400 class in Mondello Park on Sunday if he can thread his way through the Uno class runners who are set to share the grid.

Irish Independent

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