Keith Cronin has made two wins in two in the 2012 MSA British Rally Championship after a stunning win on the Jim Clark International Rally.
Cronin headed into the final day of the event with a comfortable lead of nearly a minute after a dominant display on Saturday, winning six of the ten stages in his Citroen DS3 R3, despite suffering from a broken brake pedal.
Cronin had some early trouble on the final leg with a minor off in the wet conditions, but the Irishman bounced back to win two of the final three stages of the rally to secure victory by over a minute.
The victory makes it two in a row for Cronin, who won last time out on the Pirelli International too. The results move the 2009 and 2010 BRC champion up to third in the championship standings, just two points off the leaders, putting him right in contention to make it a hat trick of BRC crowns.
Cronin said: “This certainly wasn't the easiest of events, especially with the brake pedal problem, but I'm delighted that the result was the right one in the end. It's great to win this event, especially against such strong competition and because it's been so tough. This has really helped our chances in the championship.”
Sitting second overnight was Tom Cave, the Welshman looking to keep himself in contention in case Cronin ran in to troubles. Cave won the first of the day's five stages in his Citroen DS3 R3 and when a recurrence of Cronin's brake problem caused him to go off on SS12 and lose half a minute, Cave had suddenly cut the lead down to 32 seconds.
Cave couldn't beat Cronin over the final three stages though, leaving him to settle for second, 1 minute and 16 seconds behind the winner. The result moves Bulldog winner Cave into a share of the championship lead.
Jonathan Greer held off a determined Elfyn Evans to take third, making it a Citroen DS3 R3 lockout of the podium places. Evans pushed him hard in his less powerful Ford Fiesta though, the Welshman taking the R2 class win in fourth, keeping him in a share of the championship lead.
A solid run through the day saw Osian Pryce secure a strong fifth, while a late change saw Mark Donnelly take sixth. The Renault Clio driver was on a charge this morning after engine troubles plagued his progress on Saturday and a final stage win saw him leapfrog Jukka Korhonen for the top six finish. Finn Korhonen took seventh and with it second in the R2 class in his Skoda Fabia.
Taking the Pirelli Star Driver victory for the event after a stunning drive to eighth overall on his first ever tarmac rally was Matthew Cathcart, the Northern Irishman taking a stage win on SS12 on his way to the third in the R2 class.
Just finishing inside the top ten on his series return was Callum Black, the 20 year old finishing ninth on his debut in a Citroen DS3 R3. Other notable performance came from Alex Parpottas, who was a brilliant second quickest on SS11 on his way to thirteenth, and Evo magazine's Henry Catchpole, who finished fourteenth in a one off drive in a Renault Twingo.
The day produced a number of notable retirements. Peter Taylor retired from fifth place after damaging his suspension on SS13, while on the same stage; Jussi Kumpumaki got stuck in a ditch, losing him a potential top ten finish. Other retirements included Christian South, who did not start the final day, Garry Pearson who suffered mechanical trouble and Nick Allen, who went off on the final stage.
Provisional 2012 MSA British Rally Championship standings (After Rd. 4 of 6):
1= Elfyn Evans – 60 points
1= Tom Cave – 60 points
3. Keith Cronin – 58 points
4. Mark Donnelly – 49 points
5. Osian Pryce – 44 points
6= Peter Taylor – 38 points
6= Jonathan Greer – 38 points
8= Desi Henry – 37 points
8= Jukka Korhonen – 37 points
10. Jarkko Nikara – 34 points
Provisional 2012 MSA British Manufacturers Rally Championship standings (After Rd. 4 of 6):
1. Citroen UK – 147 points
2. Renault UK – 119 points
3. Ford Motor Company – 118 points
Provisional Ravenol Oils BRC Privateers Cup standings (After Rd. 4 of 6):
1. Keith Cronin – 60 points
2. Desi Henry – 57 points
3. Mark Donnelly – 52 points
4. Jonathan Greer – 48 points
5. Peter Taylor – 44 points
6. Jarkko Nikara – 36 points