BY MARTIN WALSH
KEITH Cronin’s outing in last weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, the fourth round of the British Rally Championship, proved a disappointing foray as he finished tenth overall due to the addition of a two-minute time penalty.
Co-driven by Killarney’s Mikie Galvin in the Hankook liveried Ford Fiesta Rally2, the Ballylickey driver summed up proceedings: ‘It certainly wasn’t what I wanted. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I guess you have rallies like that.’
On Friday night’s opening stage (Dalby) Cronin was in trouble prior to the start when his Fiesta developed a misfire. In contact with his service team, Cronin and co-driver Galvin tried to explore the cause of the misfire. Eventually, it was nothing more than a faulty plug connection.
Luckily, they made it to the stage with some three minutes to spare before they faced exclusion for exceeding maximum lateness. They posted the fifth-fastest stage time and while they were 24.4 seconds behind rally leader Matt Edwards in the Mel Evans Motorsport prepared VW Polo GTi, they were within 7.1 seconds of second place.
On the first three stages of Saturday’s second leg, they struggled to find a rhythm and arrived at the service park in sixth position, a little over a minute behind leader Edwards who continued to punch in the best stage times.
To add to his woes, Cronin was late exiting the service park as his team had to replace a broken alternator bracket. Unfortunately, he incurred a two-minute penalty. There was some solace from the fact that his time for the penultimate stage (SS 5), the longest stage of the rally (Langdale, 13.2 miles) was only 3.9 seconds shy of the best time, set by Welsh ace Osian Pryce (VW Polo GTi), who was co-driven by Killarney’s Noel O’Sullivan. Were it not for the penalty, Cronin would have finished fourth overall. Edwards took what was his second win of the season finishing 32.8 seconds ahead of Pryce, who edged out Matthew Wilson (Ford Fiesta Rally2). Pryce/O’Sullivan are the new leaders of the series.
Meanwhile, in the Junior BRC category, Inchigeelagh’s Eamonn Creedon and his Meath driver Brian Brady (Ford Fiesta Rally4) retired on Friday night’s opening stage. Barryroe co-driver Dylan Doolan and Galway’s Aoife Raftery (Ford Fiesta R2) bowed out on the third stage with a broken track rod.