BY MARTIN WALSH
BALLYLICKEY’S Keith Cronin and his Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin in a Fiesta R5 won the138.com Rally Isle of Man on Saturday, and more importantly clinched the British Rally Championship in the most dramatic circumstances possible.
Cronin began the rally, spilt into two events for the purposes of the Prestone British Rally Championship, 32 points behind title favourite Sweden’s Fredrik Ahlin (Skoda Fabia R5).
On Friday, Cronin won the penultimate round with Ahlin finishing third.
However, he still needed to win this last round (and also clinch the five points for his Joker round) and hope that Ahlin was third or lower.
The final nine stages (five on Saturday) were classified as the final round of the BRC and Cronin edged out Welsh driver Matthew Edwards, also in a Fiesta R5, by a mere tenth of a second on the very final stage to claim what is his fourth British title to deny title favourite, Sweden’s Fredrik Ahlin (Skoda Fabia R5), who finished third again.
On Saturday, Cronin got caught behind another car on one stage, which cost him time. He also had to stop on a stage to wait for a herd of cows to pass – that stage was later cancelled – as Cronin went on to secure the rally win and the championship, the latter by a single point from Ahlin.
Cronin equals British rally legend Roger Clark with four championship wins, just one behind record title winner Jimmy McRae.