Alastair Fisher and Keith Cronin duel in Acesigns Cork “20” International Rally

Keith Cronin

Throughout this season, in what is a new era in the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship, Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher and Cork’s Keith Cronin have been the standard bearers.

No other driver has managed to secure maximum points on the six rounds thus far, yet Monaghan’s Sam Moffett and his younger sibling Josh remain in contention for the series that culminates with this weekend’s Acesigns Cork “20” International Rally.

An event win or maximum championship points will be enough for Fisher (28) or Cronin (30) to win the series and become the first R5 driver to claim the Fisher Perpetual Cup (a trophy named in honour of the late Bertie Fisher — Alastair’s uncle). The Moffett brothers have a more difficult task in order to succeed.

Top seed Fisher in his Fiesta R5 has a lead of 8.5 points over Cronin but with dropped scores taken into account, the margin is just two points.

The pace of Fisher and Cronin is very evident and the TROA are fortunate to have the pair contest the series as their profile has benefitted the seven-round campaign. The fact that is has come down to a thrilling finale is another boost, particularly for the hosts, the Munster Car Club.

With 50% bonus points on offer, it adds to the intrigue as there will be a three-point difference between first and second and that is the key factor in what is a winner takes all scenario. There is no doubting the ability of either driver but reliability is a very different matter, Cronin’s Tria-backed Citroen DS3R5 has been prone to some difficulties along the way while the Fiesta R5 seems a more dependable package.

With the event almost identical to last year when Cronin finished second, that experience could be valuable while Fisher hasn’t competed in Cork since 2010.

Acknowledging that he needs results to go his way in order to be successful, Sam Moffett (Fiesta R5) can only wait and hope that he is in the right place to take advantage should that scenario unfold. It is even a little more difficult for his brother Josh, but no doubt they will enjoy their own family duel.

Newly-crowned Triton Showers National Rally champion Roy White (Ford Fiesta) from Clonmel and late entry Clonakilty’s Kevin Kelleher in the McKinstry Motorsport- hired Subaru S14 are the only WRCs in the top 10.

Comparison of their stage times with the series regulars should be interesting. Others in the top 10 are Belfast’s Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3 R5), the Fiesta R5 pair of Monaghan’s Stephen Wright and Dundalk’s Brendan Cumiskey and Ovens driver Owen Murphy (Skoda Fabia S2000). Greer showed good pace on the Ulster Rally and will need to replicate that form in Cork, where Wright needs a strong result to boost his confidence.

Murphy will be aiming for a top six finish and his outing in the recent Clare Rally that was punctuated with differential woes, should provide a fillip.

Elsewhere, new Group N champion David Guest (Mitsubishi) will target a repeat of his sixth-placed finish last year, the Dunmanway driver could also take control of the PlasticBags.ie Southern 4 Rally Championship.

In the Modified category, Eugene Meegan (BMW 1M), Brian Brogan (Escort), Phil Collins (Escort), and Calum Duffy (Skoda) are the main contenders but the locals such as Donal O’Brien and Mark Dolphin both in Escorts and Jason Ryan (Honda Civic) will fancy their chances.

Irish drivers Kris Meeke and Craig Breen are in action in the Tour de Corse, round 11 of the World Rally Championship that begins today.

They will campaign the Abu Dhabi Total WRT-run Citroen DS3 WRCs. Today’s four stages will have no service period — just a mid-leg tyre change. It will be Meeke’s first tarmac rally of the year. Meanwhile,

Breen professed a liking for the event but stated that it is unrealistic to try and match the third place podium finish he attained in Finland. It is possible that Sebastien Ogier can claim a fourth World Championship title provided he takes maximum points and some other results go his way.

The Frenchman has a 59-point advantage over his Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.


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