THE outcome of this weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire will be critical to the success or otherwise of Keith Cronin’s endeavour to secure a record-equalling fifth British Rally Championship.
A non-finish on the previous round in Wales provided a significant setback to his season, and allowed his main rival, Osian Pryce, to move seven points clear in the BRC standings.
With Pryce having three wins to Cronin’s two so far, the Cork driver must realistically take victory at the weekend to set up a final round showdown on the Cambrian Rally next month.
Cronin had taken the lead on the third stage of Rali Ceredigion, but his progress was ended abruptly early on the following stage when his Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 was pitched into a roll.
'We were on a steady pace, certainly not taking any risks', recalls Cronin. 'There was a bale placed in front of a gate pillar on the left hand side, just after a slight right on a low crest. The grip went a bit light at the top and the car went out a bit wide, the bale was protruding onto the road slightly, I just clipped it, and that was that.'
While Cronin and co-driver, Mikie Galvin, were uninjured from the impact, their Polo sustained heavy damage.
'It definitely hasn’t helped our cause, it means we really have to win this weekend to stay in with a chance of taking the title on the last rally', he continued. 'The crew at Tom Gahan Motorsport have done a great job to get the car sorted in a couple of weeks, we’re all set for Yorkshire. It’s an event we’ve gone well on before. It used to be the final round, and we’ve won the championship there twice in the past.'
Trackrod Rally Yorkshire gets underway on Friday evening, with the ceremonial start in the seaside town of Filey. There is just one stage that night, a run in the dark through the famous Dalby forest, which was often a feature of the World Championship RAC Rally in a previous era. Five further stages follow on Saturday, Cropton, Gale Rigg, Staindale and Langdale, with Dalby again rounding out proceedings shortly after 2pm. The finish celebrations are due to take place in Filey at 3.15pm.
Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin are supported in the British Rally Championship by M O’Brien Group of Companies, Molson Group, Keohane Seafoods, Inver Energy, Cremin Coaches, Cronin’s Homevalue Hardware, Cronin’s Centra (Ballylickey, Leap and Union Hall) and Pirelli Tyres.
2022 British Rally Championship Points - Drivers: Osian Pryce, 93; Keith Cronin, 86; James Williams, 63; Garry Pearson, 42; Ruairi Bell, 38; Eamonn Kelly, 33. Co-Drivers: Noel O’Sullivan, 93; Mikie Galvin, 86; Dai Roberts, 63; Dale Furniss, 42; Max Freeman, 38; Conor Mohan, 33.