Rearview mirror: Looking back on the Rally of the Lakes 30 years ago by John Daly

Rearview mirror: Looking back on the Rally of the Lakes 30 years ago  

By John Daly  

Photos by Adrian Crawley 

This article was originally published in the official programme for the 2022 Rentokil Initial Killarney Historic Rally but due to an issue in the pre-production process, a few lines were deleted in error. It is republished here in its entirety to make amends for that oversight. Kerry Motorsport News takes full responsibility for this oversight

This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the last winter Rally of the Lakes. 

For the fourth year in succession the tarmac championship winner was still to be decided. 

The drama started even before the rally when the Russian twins Nikolay and Igor Bolshikh crashed their BMW M3 E30 while testing the day before the start of the rally.  

The overall championship was between Bertie Fisher (Subaru Legacy) on 70 points and Frank Meagher (Ford Sierra Cosworth) on 64 points. The Group N championship was also undecided and between two men. Trevor Cathers on 60 points and Bob Fowden on 55 points. Both men were driving Ford Sierra Cosworths.  

Fisher was the firm favourite for the rally and the championship.  

Wet roads greeted the competitors on Saturday morning, and it was Fisher who was fastest on stage one by 10 seconds. 

 Second fastest was Kenny McKinstry in another Legacy but he had intercom trouble on the opening test.  

This turned out to be a small problem as his gearbox cried enough at the end of the second stage. Austin MacHale moved into second after McKinstry’s retirement, but he was having intercooler problems.  

Frank Meagher was setting unbelievable times considering he was driving a two-wheel drive Sierra and was in third overall.  

The Group N championship was more or less over four miles into Moll’s Gap when the gearbox broke in Cathers Sierra.  

He lost 30 seconds to Fowden on the opening test but worse was to follow.

Stuck in fourth gear, he limped through Ballaghbeama and lost almost six minutes. 

At the Saturday lunch halt and with four stages completed Fisher was leading MacHale by 1 minute 3 seconds who in turn was just 4 seconds ahead of Meagher. 

On the seventh stage, the championship was decided when Meagher punctured after taking the wrong line over a crest. He lost nearly three minutes and picked up road penalties on arrival into the next stage.

Meagher ended the day ninth. 

Bertie led Austin by 1 minute 27 seconds after eight stages at the end of the first day. 

Sunday morning the rally started with even wetter roads.

The first causality was John Price in the MG Metro 6r4 who had climbed up to third overall after day one.  

His engine expired at the end of the first stage Sunday morning. 

One of the fastest men on the Sunday stages was Enda Nolan in another Sierra Cosworth. 

He set three fastest times, proving that his third place in the Cork ‘20’ International Rally two months earlier was no fluke.

Meagher battled back to sixth but there was no stopping Fisher who got his Rally of the Lakes hat trick and with it won the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship for the second time.

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