|Fisher takes to the track ahead of Tarmac Academy test|
Rising rally star Alastair Fisher has followed in the footsteps of World Rally Championship aces Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier by visiting a race circuit to prepare for the upcoming Tarmac-based Rally Germany, the fourth stop on his FIA WRC Academy tour and the first to take place on asphalt.
Hirvonen, currently second in the world championship, spent a day at a track in Finland recently, while Ogier visited the Autosport Academy at Le Mans where he took to the wheel of a single-seater to hone his technique of driving on asphalt.
Last Monday Fisher headed to Nutts Corner Raceway in his native Northern Ireland where he spent the afternoon driving his Ford Fiesta R2 rally car, which is similar to the one he will use in Germany next week.
“The first three Academy rounds have been on gravel so it’s important to get back into Tarmac mode and get your brain thinking in the right way,” said the 23-year-old from Trillick in County Tyrone. “The stages in Germany have lots of junctions so one of the main things we did on Monday was to practice maintaining speed and momentum into and out of corners so you never lose time on the straights, which isvery important in a lower-powered car like the Fiesta.
“However, there aren’t many bumps at Nutts Corner but perhaps some on Rally Germany so we’ll have to learn how the car reacts during shakedown on Thursday before we can finalise a good set-up.”
Fisher has never competed on the Trier-based event before but his co-driver, Daniel Barritt, from Burnley in Lancashire, partnered the Japanese driver Toshi Arai to 36th position in Germany last season so can count on some previous experience.
“Tarmac driving does come quite naturally to me but from looking at DVDs of the stages in Germany the event is completely different to anything I’ve done before,” said Fisher.
After three rounds, Fisher is 10th in the WRC Academy Cup standings. “It’s been disappointing to pick up so few points despite leading two of the events but we’ve got three rounds left so the aim is to get three strong finishes. Egon Kaur might have abig lead at the moment but it’s pretty close for second place. I’m confident that I can produce a good, consistent performance in Germany.”
Rally Germany gets underway with a ceremonial start at Porta Nigra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the centre of Trier on Thursday evening (August 18). Fisher and his 15 WRC Academy rivals will tackle six stages on Friday and a further eighton Saturday prior to the finish that night.
Friday’s stages take place on vineyard roads in the Mosel wine-growing region of Germany. Saturday’s stages are held in woodland areas in northern Saarland as well as the Baumholder military training ranges. The total competitive distance is 176 miles.
All WRC Academy drivers will use identical Ford Fiesta R2s, prepared by the British M-Sport operation, which run on Pirelli control tyres.