CRONIN TO M-SPORT FOR BRC?
Wilson confirms Cumbrian outfit is in talks with three-time British champion
Three-time British Rally champion Keith Cronin is close to a deal to compete with M-sport in the British Rally Championship, Motorsport News understands.
Cronin, who won the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship last year in a Citroen DS 3 R5, has traded the titlewinning car in for a Fiesta R5.
He started the BRC last year in Mid Wales but hadn’t competed on gravel for two years. After crashing out of the Circuit of Ireland, he switched his focus to the ITRC.
The Cork driver is hoping to compete in this weekend’s Willie Loughman Forest Rally, the opening round of the Irish Forest Rally Championship in his new Fiesta R5. The trade deal is unrelated to the M-sport talks.
Cronin told MN: “I’ve nothing definite sorted yet. We are talking, we’re hoping it will go ahead, but we’re not quite there yet. I must go over again to M-sport for another meeting.
“I’m going to try to do the rally in the Irish championship this weekend. I haven’t done any gravel for a long time.”
M-sport boss Malcolm Wilson confirmed that the pair were in talks for a deal this year.
“We’re in discussions with him, but there’s definitely nothing signed or sealed yet,” said Wilson. “We’re very keen to support the British Rally Championship again this year – we want a strong presence there. Obviously we won the title with Elfyn [Evans] last year and we want to come back and challenge again this time around.
“Keith’s a quick guy and he’s won the British title a couple of times before, so he’s no stranger to the UK forests.”
British Rally Championship manager, Iain Campbell, is eager to see M-sport and Cronin in the series next year.
“To have M-sport competing in the BRC this year would be a great endorsement of where they feel the series is headed,” he said.
“M-sport have a lot of product out on the events but to have them enter a team themselves is very exciting. The rumour is that Keith Cronin will be the driver. Keith has some serious pace about him that we didn’t really get to see on many BRC events last year, but his pace on the Ulster Rally was really quick.
“I am struggling to think of an out-andout favourite for the 2017 title, and this rumoured announcement does not make picking a winner any easier.”
MN understands that M-sport is close to a deal with another driver in the BRC for 2017 and could expand to running a two-car team.
It had been rumoured Cronin would drive a Dmack-backed car, but as reported in MN the DMACK team, which backed Evans’ title last term, won’t return to the series this year. The proposed two-car M-sport team would likely run on DMACKS, however. Additional reporting by David Evans
Cronin won Irish Tarmac in ’16 Wilson: eyeing deal with Cronin Cork driver in talks with M-sport