19 April 2009
Cronin edges Pirelli International
Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors took their Mitsubishi Evo 9 to a dramatic victory on the Pirelli International Rally, edging Mark Higgins for the second time in as many British Rally Championship outings.
The Irish duo snatched the win from the Subaru of Higgins and co-driver Bryan Thomas by a miniscule two seconds after over 100 miles of hard driven stages - but not before the early part of the event had been dominated by the new Proton Satria of reigning BRC champion Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh, who were fastest on the first seven stages before going out when the car caught fire on the eight-mile Trinket test.
Fortunately, the crew emerged unscathed from the incident, but the need to call in the emergency services meant that both that stage and the one following were cancelled.
It was a good event for Mitsubishi as Dumfries' David Bogie finished third despite damaging the exhaust and a driveshaft on his car, and having to drive the final stage without a clutch.
Alistair Fisher missed the last podium spot by just 1.8secs, while Jonathan Greer took a fine fifth, ahead of Dave Weston Jr and Icelandic champion Daniel Sigurdson, both of whom, like winner Cronin, were making their first visit to the Kielder forests.
There was even more Irish success in the R3 class, as Craig Breen took his Ford Fiesta to victory, and R2, where Martin McCormack headed the runners and claimed the Citroen C2 Cup class.
As always, the rally had a sting in its tail, as Andreas Solander lost his brakes on the final stage, Kyle Orr's Fiesta spluttered through with fuel pump problems, Ross Forde drove most of the final stage with a puncture - as did Tom Walster, who opted to change his wheel at the cost of four minutes - while Joseph McGonigle's Honda had the sump guard work loose and Richard Sykes' Suzuki limped through with a broken engine mounting.
There were no late problems, however, for the event's only female crew, as Australian Molly Taylor - partnered by Carlisle's own Jemma Bellingham - romped home to a second successive victory in the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup.
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