BY MARTIN WALSH
BALLYLICKEY brothers Robert and Colin Cronin are part of an eleven member Motorsport Ireland team that will participate in the IAME World Kart Finals that begin this morning (Thursday) in Adria, Venice.
Racing for this event usually takes place at Le Mans, but organisers have switched to Adria for this year’s finals.
The team also includes Tadgh and Jack Buckley from Naas - they are the grandchildren of former rally driver Ger Buckley from Banteer.
It’s a first for the Cronin brothers and while they haven’t set any specific targets, both are determined to make an impression and enjoy the experience.
The eldest, Robert (IAME x30 Seniors) said: ‘The start of the year wasn’t great but I am getting back to it now. I don’t think we will have much of a chance as many of those that will be competing against us know the track very well.
‘To be honest, it’s more of an experience. Before the last round of the Motorsport Ireland Championship, I knew I was inside the top five which was enough for selection.’
A minor footballer with St. Colums, where he plays left-wing forward is, Robert is very competitive - especially on the track.
Younger brother Colin (IAME x30 Juniors) commented: ‘I was delighted to make the team as I had a poor race the last time as I had to start from the back of the grid in the pre-final and the selection process didn’t allow for dropped scores. It’s great to be going there.’
Playing football, hurling and soccer, Colin (13) had to make choices during the season when events clashed with his karting outings. Colin plays full forward with St. Colums U13s and midfield with Bantry Bay Rovers.
‘I have missed plenty of football and hurling due to the karting.’
On his plans for Italy he said: ‘I will go as good as I can really go, it’s hard to know, we will see.’ At a recent race in Athboy, Colin broke the lap record. He only managed to hold it for a single lap however as Galway’s Alex O’Grady (2019 Cadet World IAME champion), who had a much clearer run, broke it soon after.
Robert and Colin’s father, Danny added: ‘It is a great experience for the lads and I think it will bring them on a bit, which is the aim really. They seem to like this form of motorsport. It’s nice to see them going well and Daniel is also doing well in rallying at the moment.’
Chairperson of the Motorsport Ireland Karting commission, Ballinhassig’s Kieran Coleman said: ‘We are delighted to see these drivers competing in Adria, especially the junior karters that will be competing at their second finals, it augers well for the future of the sport.’
Wexford proves a happy hunting ground for Daniel
Ballylickey’s Daniel Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Shane Buckley took the Cronin’s Hardware backed Ford Fiesta R5 to third overall in last Sunday’s New Ross-based Wexford Volkswagen Rally. The six-stage event was won by Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Hyundai i20 R5) and his Wexford co-driver Andy Hayes, who finished 29.7 seconds ahead of the VW Polo GTi R5 of Welsh driver Meirion Evans and his co-driver Jonathan Jackson. Cronin/Buckley were 34.3 seconds further behind in third.
A margin of just 2.6 seconds covered the trio of Evans, Moffett and Cronin after the opening stage near Clonroche where overnight rain made for wet and slippery conditions as Evans punched in the best time to lead Moffett by 2.3 seconds with Cronin just three tenths of a second behind.
Evans was best on the next stage to increase his lead to 6.7 seconds; Cronin, a further 5.6 seconds in arrears reckoned he lost the time at all the chicanes along the stage. Top seed and former winner Wexford’s James Stafford (Darrian T90 GTR) occupied fourth.
For the repeat of the two stages Moffett gambled on a soft slick tyre and he powered his way through the stages that were drying out as the weather improved. Moffett gained a total of 20.3 seconds on Evans and as a result arrived into the New Ross service area leading the Welshman by 13.6 seconds. Stafford leapfrogged Cronin to slot into third - 23.7 seconds further behind as Cronin explained his position: ‘Oh, they (the two stages) were a disaster, we overshot twice, once on each stage. We put on soft slicks (tyres) but they were ones we had for a while and they were perished.’
On the penultimate stage Evans tried hard to reduce the deficit to Moffett, who set a cracking time and actually increased his lead to 26.7 seconds and Evans decided to settle for second. Despite his problems, Cronin did enough to net third. Kilkenny’s Enda O’Brien (VW Polo GTi R5) and Stafford completed the top six.
Newcestown co-driver Adrian Deasy and Kerry’s Alan Ring debuted the ex-Ari Vatanen Subaru Legacy and finished second in the Historic category that was won by Craig Breen in a similar car. Breen was co-driven by Killarney’s Mikie Galvin.
Elsewhere, Kilcrohane brothers Jer and Stephen O’Donovan took their Skoda Fabia R5 to seventh in Class 5 and 35th overall. The car had a fuel pressure issue throughout the six stages. The Pike’s Peter Keohane (Peugeot 205 GTi) won Class 1. Clonakilty’s Cal McCarthy (Citroen DS3 R5) was a non-starter. Dunmanway’s Conor McCarthy and co-driver Gavin Sheehan (Mitsubishi) had an eventful rally. They overshot and spun at the very first junction on the opening stage. They broke a driveshaft at the start of S.S. 3 and re-joined under Rally2 and finished sixth in class and 91st overall.
In the Clare Loose Surface Autocross in Ballycumber, Offaly, Rosscarbery’s Brian O’Mahony (Suzuki Semog) finished sixteenth of the 60 plus competitors and Dunmanway’s Kenneth Fuller (Peugeot 205) was third in class 2.
• A meeting of the Skibbereen and District Car Club takes place on Wednesday (October 27) night next in the Clonakilty Park Hotel at 9.00pm.