BY MARTIN WALSH
IT seems there is nothing straightforward to Keith Cronin’s adventures in this year’s British Rally Championship and last week’s penultimate round of the series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally in Wales, was just another example.
With his Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin calling the pacenotes in the Hankook-backed Ford Fiesta Rally2 they came home 12th overall. Despite all the issues through the seven-stage rally, they finished by posting the best stage time on the final stage that was on tarmac unlike the other six that were on gravel.
Elsewhere on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, Rosscarbery co-driver Aileen Kelly and her Down driver David Crossen (Ford Escort) were dominating their class and holding sixth overall in the national category until they were forced to retire when the Escort stalled after it jammed in gear.
The BRC will conclude with the Newry-based Modern Tyres Ulster Rally in two weeks’ time and it will be a title decider between Welsh team mates Osian Pryce and Matt Edwards.
After the disappointment of previous rounds, Cronin was hoping for a change of fortune in Wales. However, after a mile, it was little different to previous encounters.
‘The first mile was fine but after that I really struggled. I turned into one right hander and there was no grip and we ended up in a bank,’ Cronin said.
Indeed, the Ballylickey ace was off the track on a few other occasions as he ended the first run through the Gwydir stage holding fifth spot, some 24.2 seconds behind rally leaders Pryce/O’Sullivan.
Any hopes that Cronin/Galvin harboured on securing a first podium finish of the 2021 BRC campaign evaporated on the second stage, Penmachno, when their Ford Fiesta Rally2 punctured and they had to stop and change the wheel. They lost over five minutes and plummeted to 20th overall, almost six minutes off top spot. Cronin was fourth fastest through SS 3 but still struggled for traction.
Out on SS 4, a repeat of SS 1, Cronin was trying various settings to improve the performance of his Fiesta Rally2 but admitted he couldn’t find the consistency. Still, he was fourth quickest. The next two stages didn’t bring any rapid progress although he made up five places to slot into 12th overall.
The seventh and final stage was on tarmac (the cars were still on forest tyres) and Cronin set the quickest stage time, his first of the campaign, but really not even a consolation in terms of the overall objective. At the finish, he commented, ‘I was glad to get to the end, it was one of those rallies.’
British Rally Championship (positions after Round 6): 1. O Pryce 106 points; 2. M Edwards 98pts; 3. M Wilson 53pts; 4. R Yates 53pts; 5. S Moffett 37pts; 6. S Perez 36pts; 7. K Cronin 32pts; 8. W Creighton 29pts.