A DOUBLE celebration in the Cronin household in Ballylickey after Keith Cronin, co-driven by Killarney’s Mikie Galvin won the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship in an absorbing finish to the 138.com Rally Isle of Man.
They secured victory in the final round on Saturday - by a mere tenth of a second to claim the title - Keith’s fourth BRC success. Meanwhile, yesterday in Ennis, Daniel Cronin, also in a Fiesta R5 and co-driven by another Killarney co-driver - Shane Buckley, won the Clare Rally.
Keith Cronin’s success in the BRC was far from easy as he trailed series leader Sweden’s Fredrik Ahlin by 32 points prior to the Manx event that counted as two rounds. He needed to win both and also hope that Ahlin was no higher than third on both events. The West Cork driver swept to victory in the penultimate round that concluded on S.S. 11 managing to survive a major moment on S.S. 7 when he had an altercation with a hedge. Welsh driver Matthew Edwards (Fiesta R5) took second with Ahlin third.
At the beginning of the final round, Edwards held a slight advantage over Cronin, who moved into the lead midway through the day but was slowed when he caught another competing car. Edwards went 9.4 seconds clear with two stages remaining. The penultimate stage was cancelled when both came upon a herd of cows. In a final throw of the dice Cronin overturned the deficit to win by a mere tenth of a second to claim the title.
Yesterday in Ennis, Daniel Cronin (Fiesta R5) won an eventful Clare Rally. Top seed Declan Boyle was a non-starter and Donagh Kelly upended his Ford Focus WRC on the first stage when he hit a boulder. Niall Maguire’s rally ended with differential failure. By the end of the first loop Clare’s Padraic Egan (Subaru) led Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Skoda Fabia R5) by 14.3 seconds with Cronin 2.8 seconds further behind.
Egan slid down the order on S.S. 5 with a burst tyre and transmission woes as Cronin and McGonigle swapped the lead role. The Donegal driver crashed on S.S. 7 and Cronin went on to finish over a minute ahead of Ovens driver Owen Murphy (Skoda Fabia R5).