Cronin wins in Mitchelstown

The opening round of the Petro Systems National Forest Rally Championship, the Tipperary Sean Conlon Memorial Rally, was won by the Cork/Limerick combination of Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors.

The opening round of the Petro Systems National Forest Rally Championship, the Tipperary Sean Conlon Memorial Rally, was won by the Cork/Limerick combination of Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors.

Driving a Mitsubishi, Cronin, a former Billy Coleman Award winner, took a 35 second victory over the Subaru WRC of Trevor Harding/Andrew Purcell.

Denis Cronin/Helen O'Sullivan, also in a Subaru WRC, finished third - 53 seconds further behind.

Icy conditions in the Mitchelstown based event forced the cancellation of the opening stage at Kilcoran whilst the second test at Goatenbridge, was shortened by some five kilometres on safety grounds.

On the stage, the Mitsubishi of Pat O'Connell (Mitsubishi) was a mere two seconds ahead of Cronin with Harding four seconds behind in third.

Cronin moved in to the lead by the completion of Stage 3, Kilworth, where he led Harding by eleven seconds. O'Connell was third.

Cronin punched in the best time for the run through Kilcoran (Stage 4) to move 17 seconds ahead with Harding and O'Connell retaining their respective positions.

O'Connell was quickest on the penultimate stage but Cronin stood firm as Harding closed to within 13 seconds.

On the final test, Cronin put the issue beyond doubt and not alone did he quell Harding's challenge, he managed to increase his winning margin.

Denis Cronin (Subaru WRC) came through to take third with O'Connell fourth.

James Murphy (Escort WRC) was fifth and Frank Kelly, in a Ford Escort, was the top two-wheel drive competitor.

Number one seed, Ray Breen retired his Ford Focus WRC with throttle problems.

The Junior category was won by Craig Breen/Sorcha Kelly (Citroen C2R2), they finished over a minute ahead of the Peugeot of Vincent McAree/PJ McAree.

1. K. Cronin/G. Shinnors (Mitsubishi) 33m. 26s.

2. T. Harding/A. Purcell (Subaru WRC) 34m. 01s.

3. D. Cronin/H. O'Sullivan (Subaru WRC) 34m. 54s.

4. P. O'Connell/M. Wiley (Mitsubishi) 34m. 59s.

5. J. Murphy/A. Nestor (Escort WRC) 35m. 42s.

6. F. Kelly/L. Brennan (Ford Escort) 35m. 50s.

7. J. Reid/E. Shields (Toyota Corolla WRC) 36m. 12s.

8. PJ McGrath/B. Collins (Subaru WRC) 36m. 20s.

9. S. McGrath/K. Joyce (Mitsubishi) 37m. 08s.

10. S. O'Connell/S. Duggan (Ford Escort) 37m. 17s.

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