A famous part of rallying history will be re-created on 1st-3rd of May as Frank Cunningham will drive the ex Bertie Fisher 1991 Killarney Rally of the Lakes winning car on this year’s rally. Twenty-four years ago Bertie recorded his second of six Killarney victories with Rory Kennedy co-driving in the very same Cosworth 4×4- E28 JWK. The car also took Bertie to wins on the 1991 Ulster and Cork 20 rallies, second place on the Circuit of Ireland and second again on his final Sierra outing on the 1992 Galway International, in its emotive Toughmac colours.
For Frank Cunningham, who recorded a fine eighth place finish on last year’s Rallye Du Maroc Historique in a BDA MK2 Escort, the four wheel drive Sierra presents a new challenge, in an all new FIA class. “When the FIA made the amendment to allow a car like this into the FIA Historic Championship I made a short-list list of cars. A Ford Sierra Cosworth was on the top of the list and to get one that was used by the late, great Bertie Fisher was just the icing on the cake! I plan to contest in a few selected FIA European rounds this year like Ypres also. We have a lot of experience on the events but we are learning a new car. I plan to compete a full FIA European championship in 2016 with the C-Sport team behind me. To be using the car for my first time in Killarney is very special for me and my family as we love the rally, and the car of course won it back in 1991″ said Frank.
C-sport’s Mairt Cunningham has meticulously re-prepared the car and he is at the helm of a family motorsport preparation business that is growing at the speed of a WRC car going up Molls Gap! After four very busy years taking the team all over the world to places like, New Zealand, Morocco, France, Finland, L.A, Barbados, Estonia, Japan, Italy, Belgium and Ireland to name just a few, there has been an expansion of the business, with bookings for Portugal WRC, Ypres Belgium ERC and European FIA Historic, Goodwood Festival of Speed, Rally GB WRC and home events.
The Sierra project represents a new area for the Historic side of C-Sport at their Galway base. “I’m very proud to be working on this car, and to be debuting it in Killarney. When we got the car it was in Russell Brookes colours from the 1990 Manx where it ironically won with Bertie second in his M3. It had been restored by Graham Butler in England, then we have repatriated the car now into the Toughmac colours and have given it a full check over before the rally. For definite there will be things to learn with it, for both us and Frank, but it’s just brilliant to be entrusted with this project.”
It’s very much a family affair for Frank Cunningham who travels back and forward from the USA, as his professional motorsport team are also family members. Nephews Mairt Cunningham, Jonathan Cunningham, Patrick Cunningham and Ross Forde are all dedicated team members, whilst brother Ray is a Mini master having won the 2014 RAC Historic Championship. The Galway Mini Centre guru has also proven himself handy with the spanners on any rally car.
To catch a first glimpse of the restored Toughmac Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4, it will present at the press launch for the Killarney Rally of Lakes this Sunday evening-6.30pm at Scott’s Hotel. It will also present later in the year at the launch of the new book entitled “King Fisher” being written by Fergus McAnallen on the late Bertie Fisher.
By Andrew Bushe
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