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        Fred's WRC starts
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  Home > People > Co-drivers > F to J > Gallagher, Fred
Fred Gallagher
Fred Gallagher’s interest to motor sport was ignited by his father who used to take his son to rallies and races. As Fred was Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a natural source of inspiration was local hero Paddy Hopkirk, most of whose five Circuit of Ireland Rally wins Fred witnessed. From the road side Fred moved to inside of a competition car at the age of 17, co-driving for a local boy Raymond McKnight. That occasion holds a memorable incident as their Ford Cortina GT was in fact caught and passed by a spectator in a MGB sports car during a stage! The explanation is natural, a couple of young lads on a slow car in their first rally and seeded last on the road.

Basically, there are two sorts of careers for co-drivers. Some tend to stick with one driver for a long time and their careers follow closely that of the driver. But some, either by choice or chance, drive with multitude of drivers and Fred belongs to that group. He got on to drive with better and better drivers until in 1974 Adrian Boyd, another Irishman, asked Fred to navigate for him in the Welsh Rally. Boyd was already established driver, capable of taking overall wins in top British rallies and as such, a great opportunity for young Gallagher. In following years, Fred navigated mainly for Norwegian John Haugland in works Skoda until he got his first full time works contract for 1977 season.

For the next four years Fred Gallagher worked with British Leyland, mostly co-driving with Tony Pond but having a couple of outings with Simo Lampinen, too. WRC starts were a scarcity as team was mostly focused on British rallies and finally they decided to cease rallying at the end of 1980. At that point Pond was negotiating with Datsun but as he did not have anything definite lined up, Fred’s career entered a new phase.

Fresh from legendary RAC win, young Henri Toivonen ascended the start ramp of 1981 Monte Carlo Rally with Gallagher co-driving. During that season Fred competed in almost as many WRC events as he had in the past four put together, scored his first WRC podium finish but pair also had their share of misfortunes. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that Fred was the co-driver whom Henri tolerated longest, their partnership lasting for three seasons. They even switched teams together, moving from Talbot to Opel for 1982 season.

Their ways parted in 1984 when Toivonen moved to Lancia and Fred got offer from Toyota. If he had had a legend in making in Henri, his next driver was not to be of any lesser stature - Juha Kankkunen - with whom he sat for the next two years until Juha moved to Peugeot. Ove Andersson offered Fred a chance to stay and drive with Bjorn Waldegard, who was at the other end of experience spectrum and an established legend.

Fred had joined Toyota Team Europe at a time when it still was a small, family-like team and saw the transition to powerful works team able to take on all-mighty Lancia. From small team being taken to a lunch by Henry Liddon, TTE grew and pressures mounted until it was impossible to know every member by name any longer. Liddon’s death in a plane crash in 1987 culminated that change, Fred saying that team was never the same again for him.

Towards the end of 1980's and early 1990's Bjorn and Fred specialised in doing the Safari Rally for Toyota. Their final rally together was 1992 Safari - though not with Toyota but Lancia. That was the final WRC outing for Bjorn but Fred got an unexpected phone call six years later. Bruno Thiry had been injured during Safari recce, Ford had drafted Ari Vatanen in as a replacement and needed a co-driver for him. Happy for the opportunity Fred agreed and the pair finished third overall. Good performance was rewarded with another shot at it in Portugal and then, with an almost full season in 1999 with Ford. He navigated tarmac rallies with Jean-Joseph, did Safari with Petter Solberg but sat most of the season with Thomas Radstrom. But when Ford replaced Radstrom with Sainz, fun ended for Fred too.

That is not the end of the story because there is more to Mr Gallagher than co-driving. Both Jean Todt and David Richards have proved that qualities of a good co-driver also come handy in organiser and managerial positions. Fred is best known as an event organiser, having been the Clerk of Course for Rally of Great Britain since 1996 and also acts as a sporting director of Tour Britannia. And according to him, that is much tougher than co-driving. Besides these, Fred has been involved with many rallies as a consultant or clerk of the course, including WRC rallies of Corsica and Cyprus but also events like Pirelli Marathon, Race of Champions and East African Safari. He worked at PR of Ford WRC team for a while in 2000, chaired FIA WRC Regulation Working Group in 2002-2003, was member of FIA Rally Safety Group in 2001-2005, acted as a consultant for ISC on WRC "big brother" timing system introduced in plus many, many other duties.

Written with kind help of Fred himself.

WRC starts:69
first: Great Britain 1975
latest: Australia 1999
Fred Gallagher
Fred Gallagher
Nationality: United Kingdom
Birthday: 16-Apr-1952