Cronin heads R5 field in another big entry
With the Clonakilty Blackpudding Tarmac Championship emphasis now placed on R5/S2000 machinery, it was interesting that 17 such cars started for the second event in a row.
Alastair Fisher pushed hard initially and led Keith Cronin until Cronin hit the a sweet spot with his tyre choice and forged ahead mid-way through the day. Cronin jumped in the deep end on his first gravel event in two years on the Mid Wales Stages earlier in the month, but a strong run in West Cork was exactly the tonic needed with the British championship headed to Belfast for the Circuit of Ireland in early April.
Fisher fought back through stages five, six and seven but then crashed his Ford Fiesta R5 out of the rally on stage eight.
This left Cronin out on his own and his second overall at the finish means he increased his lead in the Tarmac series and has 32 points, with Sam Moffett second on 26 and his brother Josh third on 22. Sam and Josh finished fourth and fifth on the rally, but collected second and third points in the championship. Stephen Wright had a steady run to eighth and is fourth in the points.
Joe Mcgonigle ran higher ratios in the upper gears of his Skoda S2000 and found the extra speed useful on the fast West Cork stages. However, he made a bit of a mess of the opening stage, sliding the car into a hedge, so then spent a few stages playing catch-up. He eventually finished 10th overall, but still collected useful points.
Desi Henry had been in the top 10 with his Skoda R5 and was regaining his confidence following his Galway accident, but was knocked back when his Fabia sustained a puncture. Henry eventually retired because a differential problem was making the car wander all over the road.
Other drivers to struggle in that opening loop included Owen Murphy. He was slowed over the opening two stages with a faulty intercom in his recently acquired Skoda S2000, and then the car suffered a broken clutch release bearing that meant former forestry champion Owen eventually relegated to Rally 2. He kept going just to get a few miles on the car. He found the switch from his Mitsubishi Lancer very difficult.
Indeed, several drivers struggled to get on with their R5/S2000 cars.
John Mulholland has an ex-sebastien Ogier Skoda S2000 and found it very different. He put the car off on stage 11, and again on stage 12. Brendan Cumiskey has switched to a lefthand-drive Ford Fiesta R5 and was having trouble judging his road position, while Aaron Machale found it difficult to left-foot brake in his Skoda S2000. Joe Connolly damaged the front of his new Ford Fiesta R5 on a hedge, and ran in Rally 2, finishing 26th.
ROAD RALLY ROUND-UP
After almost two years of near misses, Richard Hunter/gary Evans finally took their maiden rally win when they dominated the Ryemoor Trophy Rally on Saturday night. The Derbyshire pair led from the off. They had built up a lead of 33 seconds by the halfway point and extended this to three minutes at the Finish.
Carl Hawkins/ Iain Tullie led the chase. They beat the winners on one section but couldn’t match them for speed on the remainder; they had to be content with the runner-up spot. Adrian Green/ Ian Gibbins were looking for their fourth straight win on the Malton MC event, but ended up third, a position they’d held all night. They led home a posse of Protons, there were seven of the Malaysian marque in the top 10.
TEG Sport boss Stuart Newby navigated Russell Waller to a win in the Novice Class in their Citroen Saxo.