BALLYLICKEY’S Keith Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin (VW Polo GTi) swept to a controlled and convincing victory in the weekend’s Beatson’s Jim Clark Rally in Duns, Scotland, the second round of the British Rally Championship.
Their 36.2 second triumph has promoted them into the lead of the series where Cronin is bidding for a record equalling fifth victory to join the legendary Jimmy McRae. Killeagh’s Eoin Treacy partnered Antrim’s Johnnie Mulholland (Ford Fiesta Rally4) to third place in the Junior BRC category.
Switching to Pirelli tyres, Cronin made an immediate impact and set the best time on the first of Friday evening’s two stages. On the first, he stopped the clocks 7.6 seconds faster than the similar car of Welsh driver Osian Pryce and his Killarney co-driver Noel O’Sullivan.
Under the cover of darkness, the 11.9-mile Longformacus stage provided a stern challenge and while Cronin was actually 22.8 seconds quicker the second time around, his rival Pryce was in trouble when his VW Polo sustained a puncture. Although he was originally shown as sixth overall, Pryce was subsequently disqualified by the organisers as he had breached one of the event’s regulations that specifically stated the local council’s sensitivity to road damage. Apparently, he should have stopped and changed the punctured wheel.
Saturday’s final leg originally consisted of seven stages as Cronin began with a 40.6-second advantage over the Hyundai i20 R5 of Welshman James Williams.
Both drivers and indeed, two others, all beat the bogey time. With fastest time on S.S. 4 Cronin extended his lead (41.1s) and by the completion of S.S. 5 where Londoner Ruari Bell (Skoda Fabia R5) was fastest Cronin remained very much in control. The organisers were forced to cancel S.S. 6 when a tractor was placed across the stage and then five drivers (including Cronin) all beat the bogey time on S.S. 7.
Managing his pace, Cronin eased off and by S.S. 8 led Williams by 36.2 seconds - that transpired to be his winning margin when the organisers cancelled the final stage. Cronin’s win was his first BRC victory since the 2017 Manx International Rally, the same year he clinched his fourth BRC title. Cronin and Galvin now take a ten point lead into the third round of the BRC, the Nicky Grist Rally on July 9th.
In the Junior BRC category, Motorsport Ireland Academy duo Donegal’s Eamonn Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Mohan took their Ford Fiesta Rally4 to a 30.6 second victory over Down’s Kyle White/Sean Topping (Peugeot 208 Rally4), who lost time when they had a trip into a hedge on the second stage. Antrim’s Johnnie Mulholland (Ford Fiesta Rally4) and his Killeagh co-driver Eoin Treacy were a minute and 14.5 seconds further behind in third.