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Daniel Cronin hails his ‘best win in rallying’

May 26th, 2024 3:00 PM

By Martin Walsh

Daniel Cronin hails his ‘best win in rallying’ Image
Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin and his Dunmanway co-driver Donnchadh Burke (VW Polo GTi R5) won the Carlow Rally. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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BALLYLICKEY’S Daniel Cronin has described his victory in Sunday’s Carlow Rally as his ‘best win in rallying.’

‘It was a round of the national championship and the entry was so good. I’ve been close on a couple of times, like in the Fastnet Rally, but this is my first win in a round of the national rally championship. It’s nice and it’s also good for confidence,’ he explained.

Co-driven by Dunmanway’s Donnchadh Burke they finished the nine-stage event, round four of the Triton series, 3.9 seconds in front of the Skoda Fabia R5 of Kilkenny’s Eddie Doherty/Tom Murphy. The Welsh crew of Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson, who gave the Toyota GR Yaris its Irish debut, were 22.9 seconds further behind in third. Following their victory, the West Cork duo have moved into second in the eight-round series and will be back in action next weekend on the Circuit of Munster Rally in Limerick.

There was drama on the opening stage when reigning national champion Josh Moffett spun and hit the left side of his Citroen C3 Rally2 off the Carlow scenery and finished the stage in 11th place, 14.6 seconds off the lead. His older brother Sam, onboard a Hyundai i20 Rally2, set the early pace and was matched by Cronin, who was only 0.2 of a second shy of the Monaghan driver.

At the stage finish, Cronin remarked, ‘It’s so slippery there, a lot of dust on the roads.’ Evans was 3.8 seconds further behind third while the conditions saw Doherty slip off the road and drop valuable seconds, finishing 16.2 seconds off top spot in 15th place.

Cronin arrived at the finish of SS2 and remarked about his performance, ‘Not great, I didn’t really get into a rhythm on the fast stuff.’ In fact it was still enough to elevate him to top spot, 0.3 of a second ahead of Sam Moffett. As Evans continued in third, Josh Moffett and Doherty made up for their opening stage errors. Moffett set the best stage time to move to fourth, 9.5 seconds behind new rally leader Cronin with Doherty 2.6 seconds further behind.

On the final stage of the opening loop there was more drama as Sam Moffett crashed out. Cronin, Evans and Doherty, all running behind the Monaghan driver, were all awarded Josh Moffett’s stage time as they headed back to service park.

On SS4, a repeat of SS1, Josh Moffett set the pace to move into second, 8.8 seconds behind Cronin, who admitted he could have been a bit quicker on certain sections. Evans, on a shakedown for this week’s Jim Clark Rally in Scotland, remained in third but Doherty was making inroads and was only 4.4 seconds behind the Welshman.

The fifth stage brought further drama as Josh Moffett went off at high speed, the impact damaging the steering of his Citroen C3 Rally2; he finished the stage in 68th place and returned on the final loop under Super Rally rules.

Cronin was quickest through SS5 and Doherty set the pace on SS6 where Cronin reckoned he was ‘a bit too cagey.’ Nevertheless, he led Doherty by 15.8 seconds, as they departed for the final loop of three stages. Evans was 3.7 seconds further behind.

Cronin had a small altercation with a chicane bale on SS7 that ripped part of the front wing and he only dropped 0.3 of a second to stage pacesetter Doherty. On the penultimate stage Doherty cut the deficit from 15.5 seconds to 9.3 seconds.

However, Cronin did enough on the final stage to claim a major win.

‘I backed off too much on the second-last stage, I know where Eddie took the time from me. At the start I was driving around things, I nearly had a spin not going in hard enough, about a quarter way in I realised I needed to start pushing again. You really can’t back off in an R5 car as you end up losing time but it all worked out well in the end. It’s opened up the championship for sure,’ Cronin said.

Evans completed the top three followed by Declan Boyle (Citroen C3 Rally2)  and Michael Boyle (VW Polo GTi R5) with top two-wheel drive exponent Kevin Gallagher (Darrian T90 GTR) completing the top six.

Cill na Martra’s co-driver JJ Cremin guided Donegal’s Stuart Darcy (VW Polo GTi R5) to seventh place; they recovered from stalling on the start line of the opening stage. Barryroe co-driver Dylan Doonan and Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan (Ford Escort) retired at final service with broken gear linkage, they were lying 12TH overall and second in the Mk.2 Challenge Trophy, 3.6 seconds behind eventual winner Frank Kelly.

Results: 1.D. Cronin/D. Burke (VW Polo GTi R5) 58m. 50.1s; 2. E. Doherty/T. Murphy (Skoda Fabia R5)+3.9s; 3. M. Evans/J. Jackson (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2)+26.8s; 4. D. Boyle/P. Walsh (Citroen C3 Rally2)+1m. 05.8s; 5. M. Boyle/D. McCafferty (VW Polo GTi R5)+1m. 06.5s; 6. K. Gallagher/R. Moore (Darrian T90 GTR)+1m. 51.8s; 7. S. Darcy/JJ Cremin (VW Polo GTi R5)+2m. 03.6s.

National Rally Championship (Positions after Round 4): 1. S. Moffett 57pts; 2. D. Cronin 54pts; 3. E. Doherty 52pts; 4. G. Kiernan 44pts; 5. J. Moffett 41pts.

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