Cronin second in British Rally Championship opener as Irish drivers dominate junior category
Photo: Ben Lawrence
West Cork driver, Keith Cronin and his Killarney co-driver, Mikie Galvin, were the best of the Irish contingent on Saturday’s Malcolm Wilson Rally, the opening round of the 2023 British Rally Championship.
The Volkswagen Polo Rally2 driver is aiming for a record-breaking fifth British Rally Championship title while Galvin is chasing a second. The French pairing of Adrien Fourmaux and Alexandre Coria in the works M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally 2 won the Malcolm Wilson Rally.
Cronin and Galvin were in the title fight but suffered a power steering issue on the day’s penultimate stage. Their Tom Gahan Motorsport team was able to change the offending item ahead of the final test.
“We would have been there or thereabouts only for catching the car on stage two, and the power steering problem on the second last one,” said Cronin.
“It’s good to have the World Championship lads here and to be on the pace with them, both ourselves and some of the other crews as well.
The rally was severely disrupted by the snowstorms that hit Ireland and Britain late last week. Event organisers were forced to alter the route on Friday night as some roads were unpassable due to snow and ice.
“It was tricky on the first pass earlier with the ice. It’s a good result for us after six months away, Adrien probably has more rallying done already this year than we will do all year,” added Cronin.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crew Eamonn Kelly and his Monaghan co-driver Conor Mohan made their Rally2 debut at the event. Driving a similar Volkswagen to Cronin, they finished seventh overall in their newly acquired machine. The car’s livery was unveiled on the Thursday before the event and sported the Rally Academy’s new-for-2023 colour scheme which is inspired by the Jordan Grand Prix Team of the 1990s.
The Junior element of the rally was an all-Irish affair with three Motorsport Ireland drivers taking the top three spots. Kyle White and co-driver Sean Topping led the event from start to finish in their front-wheel-drive Peugeot 208 Rally4. The all-Donegal crew of Kyle McBride and Liam McIntyre were second with the all-Tipperary crew of Casey Jay Coleman and Adam Coffey taking third – the latter two driving similar Ford Fiesta Rally4s.
Johnnie Mullholland and Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Eoin Treacy won Rally3 in their Ford Fiesta Rally3. They overcame alternator issues during the day. Treacy is heading straight to Mexico where he will make his World Rally Championship debut alongside Rally Academy founder and patron John Coyne.