It’s one of the world’s great tarmac rallies and now Ireland’s Rally of the Lakes has received a sprinkle of Hollywood magic.

Last year, to celebrate the event’s fortieth anniversary, Irish movie star and local boy Michael Fassbender was invited to be the rally’s ambassador and to drive its stages. Not only did he get behind the wheel but he also documented his experience along the way with a short film he has released exclusively on social network VERO.

Fassbender has long had a passion for driving and spent 2019 racing in the Porsche Sports Cup Germany, taking on the notorious German circuits Hockenheim and Nürburgring behind the wheel of a 460bhp Porsche 911.

Image credit: Oliver Hegarty

He took his thirst for speed a step further, though, when he agreed to take on the local roads where he grew up in a restored 350bhp Mk2 Ford Escort alongside experienced co-driver Barry Goodman.

Speaking of his passion for motorsport the twice Oscar-nominated star, whose film credits include the likes of Hunger, Shame, 12 Years A Slave and the X-Men franchise, said, “All my early memories are around cars, it’s such an addictive hobby. I’ve always felt called to it.”

The film, directed by school friend Marco Conte, follows Fassbender’s journey from an early recce in a rental car around the winding stages, right through to him taking on the course.
“Taking a corner, if the back wheels get off the gravel, it starts moving and it starts sliding, that really scared me. The first couple of runs I had to remind myself to breathe.”

Rally of the Lakes

Image credit: Oliver Hegarty

The three-part film also charts the attempt by Irish rally duo Craig Breen and Paul Nagle to win the race in front of Nagle’s hometown fans as a tribute to his late father Maurice, an Irish rally legend who passed away in December 2018.

“The Rally of the Lakes in 2019 was a special event regardless for me and Paul, but having a star like Michael there really topped it all off. For that weekend, he was one of our own and we thoroughly enjoyed him being there – and it turned out he’s not a bad driver either!” said Breen.

Image credit: Oliver Hegarty

The 2020 Rally has sadly been cancelled due to Covid-19, but Michael is premiering the documentary on VERO to celebrate an event and a community close to his heart.

“I hope people will enjoy the film and find ways to support the local events that mean a great deal to them during these uncertain times,” he says. “Here’s to the next forty years of the Rally of the Lakes.”