Commitment, confidence, and concentration. They are the three Cs that Alastair Fisher reckons will be crucial to a good performance on the West Cork Rally, the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship’s second round of 2022.
Based in the seaside town of Clonakilty, the West Cork Rally has become a highlight of the Irish Tarmac Championship since joining its calendar in 2015. The rally’s festival atmosphere has often been pegged as the key influencer behind its popularity.
But as Fisher explained on the latest Krunching Gears podcast, the stages offered by West Cork Rally are as good as they come.
“West Cork’s stages are something else,” said the 2019 runner-up. “They really are drivers’ stages. I’ve always enjoyed getting stuck into them, you have to be really committed on the roads down there.
“It’s still the time of year when conditions can be tricky. The surface of the road changes a lot and the farmers are starting to get out and about.
“It’s one where you have to really be on the ball, keeping an eye on everything.”
A puncture spoiled Fisher’s Galway International Rally, February’s ITRC opener. Looking back on his performance, the Fermanagh man was able to take positives from how close he was to his rivals despite it being his first rally in two years.
Fisher is feeling comfortable behind the wheel of his Melvyn Evans Motorsport prepared Volkswagen Polo R5. This week, he’s focused on maximising the potential of the whole package in West Cork.
“The roads are normally fast and committed, everything has to be working well. You really need confidence in the car.
“That is something we’ll be working on during recce, just building as much confidence and positivity into our notes, hopefully that will follow into the event.
“The stages are certainly very flowing. Generally quite a few medium-width roads whereas Galway is normally that narrow track road where really you’re not leaning too much on the car or tyre for long periods of time.
“There is normally variation in Cork: some of the coast roads are very flowing and then you head inland to some of the back roads which are farming roads really.
“There is a mix of characteristics and looking at the itinerary the stages are long by Irish Tarmac standards.
“We’re going to have to make sure we maintain a good pace over the length of each stage, we don’t want any lapses in concentration.”
So, committed stages that demand confidence to lean on every last tenth the car has available.
All the while, keeping an assured level of concentration to avoid the clutches of Irish rallying’s mucky traps over stages that top 100 kilometres on each of West Cork Rally’s two days of action.
West Cork may well be a fan favourite but it’s equally a challenge lapped up by each competing crew heading to Clonakilty this week.
Listen to Alastair Fisher’s complete interview on the latest episode of Krunching Gears, released on Wednesday 16th March.
Photos by Kevin O’Driscoll and Ruaidhri Nash