Cronin wins Pirelli International Rally

Irish driver, Keith Cronin has taken yet another sensational last stage victory in a round of the British Rally Championship.

Irish driver, Keith Cronin has taken yet another sensational last stage victory in a round of the British Rally Championship.

The young Cork driver, co-driven by Limerick's, Greg Shinnors in their Mitsubishi, reeled in the Subaru of former triple British champion, Mark Higgins and his co-driver, Bryan Thomas on the twelfth and final stage to win by just two seconds.

It was a similar situation to the opening round where Cronin denied Higgins on a final stage decider.

Cronin's victory capped a superb event for Irish drivers.

Tenth placed, Craig Breen from Kilkenny won Class R3 and took top points in the Fiesta SportingTrophy category.

Northern Ireland's, Marty McCormack won Class R2 and netted maximum points in the Citroen Racing Trophy.

Overnight leader, Guy Wilks (Proton) set the pace through the day's opening pair of stages with Higgins fastest on stage 5.

Cronin, gaining in confidence over the Kielder forest tracks, then punched in the top times through stages 6 and 7.

At that point, the West Cork driver held third position - 10.2 seconds behind Higgins and 36.2 seconds behind leader, Guy Wilks - both Wilks and Higgins possessing vast experience of Kielder.

Wilks retired on Stage 8 when his Proton caught fire, indeed, some of the forest also caught fire.

Competitors managed to extinguish the forest fire but couldn't prevent the Proton from being destroyed.

Along with Stage 8, Stages 9 and 10 were also cancelled leaving Higgins out in front with a 10.2 second lead over Cronin.

Out on the penultimate test, Cronin took 7.8 seconds out of his rival to set up a grandstand finish with just 2.4 seconds between the pair.

Cronin set a time 4.4 seconds quicker than Higgins to take his second successive victory in the British Championship.

Elsewhere, Fermanagh's Alastair Fisher (Mitsubishi) set some very strong times towards the finish and came within 1.8 seconds of third place. Fellow Ulsterman, Jonny Greer (Mitsubishi) was fifth with top Fiesta driver, Craig Breen making it four Irish drivers in the top ten.

1. Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi) 1h. 10m. 17.7s.

2. Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas (Subaru) 1h. 10m. 19.7s.

3. David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi) 1h. 11m. 46.7s.

4. Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi) 1h. 11m. 48.5s.

5. Jonny Greer/Anthony O'Conaill (Mitsubishi) 1h. 12m. 00.7s.

6. Dave Weston/Dave Robson (Subaru) 1h. 12m. 20.5s.

7. Danny Sigurdarson/Andy Bull (Mitsubishi) 1h. 14m. 56.8s.

8. Chris Firth/Martin Taylor (Subaru) 1h. 16m. 17.8s.

9. Max Utting/Katie Blake (Subaru) 1h. 16m. 38.0s.

10. Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (Fiesta) 1h. 17m. 17s.

Meanwhile Welsh driver, Simon Hughes took the top points in the Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge UK series that was decided over ten stages under the banner of the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria.

Wicklow's Daniel Barry, was second - 36.9 seconds behind at the finish in Carlisle.

Cork ace Owen Murphy struggled throughout the event, with his Mitsubishi cutting out repeatedly on every stage due to a loose connection to the ECU. He had to be content with fourth in the category.

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