Cronin second in Isle of Man rally

After a sterling performance on the opening stages where he carved out a strong lead Irish driver, Keith Cronin, partnered by his co-driver, Greg Shinnors ended the opening leg of the Isle of Man International Rally in second place.

After a sterling performance on the opening stages where he carved out a strong lead Irish driver, Keith Cronin, partnered by his co-driver, Greg Shinnors ended the opening leg of the Isle of Man International Rally in second place.

The Cork/Limerick pairing are one minute and 2.4 seconds behind four time winner, Mark Higgins and his co-driver, Bryan Thomas (Subaru).

Fermanagh's Alastair Fisher and his Donegal co-driver, Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi) are some two and a half minutes further adrift in third.

The event is a counting round of both the British Rally Championship (BRC) and the Irish Tarmac Championship (ITC).

It began well for Cronin on the first stage where Manxman, Higgins was less than six seconds faster through the stage.

Indeed, the West Cork ace took the lead on the second stage and went 17.5 seconds ahead after Stage 3.

Higgins took a few seconds from him the fourth stage.

The most significant point of the day came on S.S. 5 when Cronin's Cremin Coaches backed car burst the rear differential and he lost over a minute to Higgins.

Yet, it only cost him one place on the leaderboard such was his advantage over the other competitors that included fellow Irish drivers, Jonathan Greer and Alastair Fisher.

Greer crashed out later whilst Fisher maintained third.

For the remainder of the day, Higgins had a slight advantage over most of the stages leaving him with an advantage of over one minute heading to tomorrow's eight stages that will bring the event to a conclusion.

Other Irish drivers that are in the top ten overnight are Marty McCormack (Citroen) and Craig Breen (Fiesta).

1. M. Higgins/B. Thomas (Subaru N11) 1h. 26m. 19.2s

2. K. Cronin/G. Shinnors (Mitsubishi Evo9) 1h. 27m. 21.6s.

3. A. Fisher/R.. Kennedy (Mitsubishi Evo9) 1h. 30m. 08.1s

4. A. Gould/S. Marshal (Subaru N14) 1h. 30m. 09.1

5. S. Quine/P. McCann (Mitsubishi Evo6) 1h. 32m. 01..9s.

6. E. Thorburn/C. Roy (Subaru) 1h. 33m. 10.2s.

7. D. Weston Jr./A. Davies (Subaru) 1h. 33m. 47.2s

8. T. Walster/C. Parry (Renault Clio R3) 1h. 34m. 32.2s

9. M. McCormack/P. Clarke (Citroen C2R2)1h. 34m. 46.5s

10. C. Breen/G. Roberts (Ford Fiesta ST) 1h. 34m. 51.5s.

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