Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors set a blistering pace on International Rally Yorkshire to not only take their third gravel victory of 2009, but with it secure the MSA British Rally Championship at their first attempt.
The battle with season-long championship rivals Mark Higgins and Bryan Thomas was all-but won on the first of the day's nine stages, where the 23-year-old from County Cork took thirteen seconds of the triple British rally Champion.
Sadly on the last stage, any hope of a late chance for Higgins was quashed when his Pirelli TEG Sport Impreza left the road at high speed.
Cronin's victory is the first for an Irish driver since 1974, when Billy Coleman took the title at the wheel of a Ford Escort
“It hasn't sunk in yet, but we knew we had the pace on this event, having competed here last year,” Cronin said. “It's a shame Mark (Higgins) went off on the last stage and I hope they are OK, but to take the title against such an excellent driver is fantastic.”
Stuart Jones and Andy Bull made an excellent comeback to the BRC, beating both Higgins and Cronin on four of the day's nine stages to take a well deserved second place overall. The times set in the borrowed Team JRM Lico Evo X were sufficient to secure the final place in the Pirelli Star Driver Final too, impressing the judges with a controlled but quick drive.
The fifth driver to take third place in 2009 was an elated Jonny Greer, he and Kirsty Rid**** having an untroubled day aside from a puncture early on. The Ulsterman has been in the chasing pack of young drivers all season, his pace improving throughout. This first BRC podium is certainly well deserved on such a demanding event.
Promoted to fourth after Higgins' accident were outgoing Pirelli Star Driver Adam Gould and co-driver Seb Marshall. They managed to get to grips with the older specification Impreza after swapping with Pirelli TEG Sport team-mate Higgins, their second fourth place sufficient to seal the MSA British Teams Rally Championship for the Carnforth based outfit.
read more:Crash.net Cronin wins Yorkshire for crown
2009 DRIVER STANDINGS
1 Keith Cronin IRL 106 Pts
2 Mark Higgins GB 96 Pts
3 Alastair Fisher GB 82.5 Pts
4 David Weston Jnr GB 75 Pts
5 Jonathan Greer GB 62 Pts
6 Adam Gould GB 53.5 Pts
7 Martin McCormack GB 53 Pts
8 David Bogie GB 49 Pts
9 Chris Firth GB 49.5 Pts
10 Euan Thorburn GB 48 Pts
A selection of Photos from the British Rally Championship Trackrod Yorkshire Rally from this past weekend