Cronin makes it three from three

Tuesday 28 May 2024

What better advertisement for the revitalised Probite British Rally Championship than to have three different winners from the opening three rounds. After victories for Chris Ingram and Osian Pryce, Keith Cronin reignited his quest for a fifth title with a hard-fought triumph on last weekend’s Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally. 

After a dismal start to this year’s BRC campaign, Cronin and co-driver Mikie Galvin took their Pirelli shod Ford Fiesta Rally2 to their first victory of the season and, more importantly, edged back into contention for the coveted crown.  

The experienced Irish pair fended off the advances of fellow countrymen and 2019 Junior BRC champions William Creighton and Liam Regan who claimed second spot, with local hero Garry Pearson and co-driver Daniel Barritt rounding out the top three positions to make it a Fiesta Rally2 podium lock-out. Pearson would head home young team-mate Max McRae who secured his best BRC result in fourth spot. 

An action-packed weekend in the gruelling closed roads around the host town of Duns in the Scottish borders was almost guaranteed, but this year’s event proved to be tougher than ever with an extended Friday night format providing the perfect battleground for the BRC elite. Add in the return of the iconic Langton water-splash test and all the signs were pointing to a classic.

And the Jim Clark Rally did not fail to deliver the drama. After significant rainfall through the build-up, conditions were unpredictable, however, it was a familiar name at the top of the standings on Friday. Ingram revelled in the wet conditions of the North West Stages in March in the Castrol MEM Rally Team Volkswagen Polo GTi flying through the opening three tests to build up a 20-second lead after the first loop.  

But Ingram’s hard work would come undone on Saturday morning when his Polo left the road putting him out of the rally lead and into retirement. Pryce had already retired after drowning his Fiesta Rally2 in the Langton ford on Friday night. 

Their demise played perfectly into the hands of Cronin who was desperate for a good result to ensure he remained in contention for another BRC title. A managed drive over the final loop was all that was needed to become the third different driver to stand on the top step of the BRC podium in 2024. 

“The first two rounds didn’t go our way, unfortunately, but championships are long. This win gives us a fighting chance again, but it’s still a long championship,” said the four-time champion.

For Creighton, it was a case of being the bridesmaid for the third time this season, but the Irishman didn’t mind. That second overall is enough to launch him firmly into the lead of the six-round championship. His consistency is a testament to his hard work in the World Rally Championship and Creighton heads into the summer break with a 15-point advantage. 

Next up on the calendar is another Scottish classic: the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally on 9-10 August. Based just outside of Aberdeen, the Grampian boasts some of the most exciting forest stages in the UK.