Mark Fisher - Rally of GB

Posted: November 26, 2000 12:39 AM - 7608 Hits

Peugeot Sport UK Supporters Club -
Leg 2 Report

It's like driving a grizzly bear" was how Mark Fisher finally summed up the Friday stages of the Rally of GB. However, today, Saturday, the grizzly still had more aggravation for the Super 106 Cup prize winner and retirement soon beckoned.

Posted: November 26, 2000 12:39 AM

On stage 1 of the 7 stages today, a repeat of yesterday's Rhondda stage, the car went on to three cylinders. Despite this, Mark and fellow Irishman Gordon Noble posted a 25th overall time, yet again moving them dramatically up many places into 52nd overall.

The next stage, Rheola, still in the Neath valley complex, saw the gremlins re-appear in full spate. An unexplained suspension failure in turn caused damage to the main water hoses, losing all the water which caused the engine to overheat, and over 120 degrees were recorded. They limped through the last five miles of the stage. At the stage end, the car wouldn't restart on leaving the time control, although they finally got it started and coaxed it into the service area.

Retirement was inevitable and the crew hung up their helmets on arrival into the park. Their time through Rheola netted them a place on the results sheet, ironically another improvement into 45th place, their exact seeding for the rally.

During that last stage, they also narrowly avoided a collision with fellow competitor Papadimitrou, as they lurched sideways at a hairpin. They hadn't seen his approach, although they had been keeping a watchful eye out, and as Papadimitrou started his passing manoeuvre, they were nearly ditched as they took avoiding action.

Understandably, the crew are distraught that their prize drive and all the work they have put in through the year has turned sour, but they can take satisfaction that they have put their best into it, and on this occasion, the car has just let them down.

However, the team remain positive that so many miles were successfully achieved in testing, and appreciate that some improvements must be made in event scenario.

Leg 1 Report

Mark Fisher, the 27 year old Ulsterman, along with his experienced co-driver fellow Irishman Gordon Noble has had a dreadful day on the first serious seven stages of the world rally championship, the Rally of GB.

On the first Super Special Stage, held last night on the newly completed 1.6 mile spectator friendly track in the centre of Cardiff, they were thoroughly enjoying the experience, when the car steamed up after hitting the watersplash. This then cost them quite a few valuable seconds, and they finished the night in 42nd overall. However, at the start of this cold, rainy day, typical Rally GB weather, it all started to go horribly wrong. The first group of three stages totalled some 31 miles, split as 8, 7 and 17, with service only allowed at the end of the loop. On the first of these, a suspension problem occurred, resulting in a very slow time. It worsened on Stage Tyle, and with the longest stage to follow, the crew cobbled together a repair. Although this kept them in the rally, they also netted some road penalties. The combination of the slow times and the penalties saw the crew finish this section in a lowly 110th place.

With high hopes that the service had repaired the problem, they tackled the next loop of 2 stages only to find an even worse scenario. Three wheel drive made the car virtually undriveable and Mark found that the car "snatched" erratically over the slightest bump. It was with a gutsy drive that the crew made the next service halt at all.

At this service, back in Builth, the gearbox was changed after the electronics engineer had discovered the exact problem inside the differential. Without dropping any further time, the French mechanics put the car out of service, but they had none of the precious 20 minutes available to check the suspension, so the car's handling, albeit improved, was still unpredictable, and certainly not to Mark's liking.

However, the last two stages went seriously better than the earlier part of the day, and the crew netted a 22nd fastest and 24th fastest respectively in Hafren & Myherin stages, despite being completely dark. This has moved them back up through the field, and into 63rd overnight.

Mark commented "It's been a very, very difficult day. The car just wanted to fly off the road; it's been an incredibly testing time. I didn't stick my neck out in Hafren or Myherin, as I was still a bit nervous of the car. However, I have to make sure I start tomorrow with a positive attitude."

The service crew had 45 minutes at the last service to finally enable the geometry and suspension to be properly aligned, so tomorrow should see a better set of stage times on the board.

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