Belfast Telegraph

Cronin hits the front at Isle of Man as Evans falls back

By Sammy Hamill

Keith Cronin stopped short of calling it a make or break rally but he knew his hopes of remaining British champion rested on victory in the Isle of Man this weekend.

And last night after a dramatic opening day on the Manx roads, he had a lead of more than one and a half minutes heading into the overnight halt.

However, the 24-year-old from Co Cork, who lies sixth in this season’s BRC standings, owed his lead to the problems of closest challenger Gwyndaf Evans than his own outright speed.

Former champion Evans was in front early on but twice his Mitsubishi Lancer suffered damage to its rear suspension and at one point he fell back to seventh place, over two minutes behind Cronin’s Subaru.

But the Welshman fought back and with one stage remaining last night he had regained second place.

Another Welshman, Jason Pritchard, was in third place in his Subaru with Jonny Greer fourth in his Mitsubishi. But there was a bent car for Greer’s fellow Ulsterman Alastair Fisher, though fortunately without injury to himself or co-driver Rory Kennedy.

Meanwhile, World champion Sebastien Loeb dominated the opening day of the Rally of Bulgaria, building up a half-minute advantage over his Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo. Former World champion Petter Solberg, with Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson on board his Citroen C4, was in third place.

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