BY MARTIN WALSH
IT has already been a whirlwind of success for sport in West Cork – be it on the water or on the playing fields – and now on the roads at this weekend’s Acesigns Cork ‘20’ International Rally, Ballylickey’s Keith Cronin will be aiming to become the first West Cork driver to win the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
It is all of 32 years since Millstreet’s Billy Coleman won the title. Six years ago Cronin emulated the Millstreet man when he became the second Irish driver to win the British Rally Championship after a 35 year wait. Clonakilty-born David Guest has already clinched the Group N category of the series that is sponsored by Clonakilty Blackpudding and a Cronin victory at the Cork ‘20’ that will clinch the title, would certainly create a unique piece of history.
But the road to success in rallying is full of twists and turns, undulating and meandering. Cronin’s talent has never been in doubt, he has a special instinct that sets him apart and the general consensus is that he should be plying those talents at a much higher level, namely, at the World Rally Championship – the cost factor is the only obstacle.
A win for Cronin this weekend will be enough to claim the Tarmac title, his main rival is Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher while the Moffett brothers Sam and Josh have an outside chance of success.
This year’s Tarmac series is confined to the R5 type cars with Cronin and Fisher the cream of the young bunch of drivers.
Talent alone is not enough to win the ITC, the reliability of the car is also a crucial element. Cronin was non-committal on his future in the sport adopting the ‘We will see’ attitude.
Hopefully, we will see more of Keith Cronin on the rallying stages, we already know and appreciate his driving skills, in that respect he doesn’t need to become the 2016 Irish Tarmac champion, but it would be nice, well deserved and worth the wait.