Keith Cronin relishing M-Sport link-up for British Rally Championship

Cork driver Keith Cronin has penned a deal that will see him and Killarney co-driver Mikie Galvin contest this season’s Prestone British Rally Championship with M-Sport and the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta R5.

Keith Cronin relishing M-Sport link-up for British Rally Championship

Negotiations accelerated in the last week as Cronin completed a very satisfactory test with M-Sport. Next weekend he is top seed for the Malcolm Wilson (MW) Rally where he will use his own Fiesta R5 as preparation for his championship debut in the M-Sport car the following week in the Border Counties Rally.

Cronin, who first won the BRC in 2009 (ending a 35-year wait since Billy Coleman won the first title in 1974) also won in 2010 and 2012.

The highlight of his move to the WRC3 category within the World Rally Championship the following season was a category win on the Neste Rally Finland but he lost out narrowly on a prized Citroen drive.

A subsequent sojourn in the WRC2 class ended in disappointment when a pre-event crash scuppered his plans.

Last year he won the Irish Tarmac Championship. Cronin will contest all seven rounds and his car will carry an M-Sport livery similar to that on the M-Sport cars of Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak in the World Rally Championship.

While there are no guarantees in rallying, Cronin’s displays will be watched with interest and a sporadic appearance in a European round of the WRC is a possibility. For now though, he can show his potential on board the Blue Oval.

Just a few weeks ago in south Tipperary, he finished third in the Carrick on Suir Forest Rally on what was his first outing in the Ford marque.

Cronin said: “I’m looking forward to the season ahead and to be working with M-Sport as we chase success on the British Rally Championship. It’s a fantastic series and I can’t wait to be back competing in the championship. I’m really excited about the Fiesta R5.

"I’ve not had a lot of seat time, but hopefully it won’t take us long to find our feet.”

Indeed, Cronin was very content with the Fiesta on his outing in Tipperary. “M-Sport are known for developing winning cars and my initial feeling has been good.

The Fiesta is a great car to drive. It handles really well and I hope we’ll be able to challenge for some top results this year. It’s also great to have DMACK (tyres) on board.”

Meanwhile, Sunday’s second round of the Parts for Cars Irish Rallycross Championship in Mondello Park has opening round winner Derek Tohill (Fiesta) facing a stronger entry with Paul Pascoe (Subaru) and Thomas O’Rafferty (Fiesta) joining the series.

The Modified section is boosted by the return of Ian O’Connell (Lotus Exige).

The first of three heats starts at 10.15am, with the finals beginning at 3.30pm. Also on Sunday the karting season begins at Kartworld Watergrasshill while the Rally series will be launched in the Vienna Woods Hotel on Sunday at 2pm.

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