Cronin keen to seize chance to fuel Ford's British title bid
He was always seen as the logical choice to replace Elfyn Evans and now it has been confirmed that Keith Cronin will spearhead Ford's challenge in this year's British Rally Championship.
The reigning Irish Tarmac champion will switch to the British series to drive an M-Sport R5 Ford Fiesta in a bid to retain the title won by Evans in 2016. The Ulster Rally-winning Welshman has moved on to be part of the Ford team in the World Championship.
Cronin is a three-time British champion himself and was the first choice of M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson to take over from Evans in the DMACK-tyred Fiesta.
"I'm just glad we have got it over the line and I'm looking forward to working with M-Sport. They are known for developing winning cars and my initial feeling with the Fiesta has been good," said the Cork driver who won the premier Irish title in a DS3 Citroen last season.
"I've not had a lot of seat time in the car so far, but we'll get a couple of rallies under our belt before the start of the Championship and hopefully it won't take us long to find our feet."
The first of those appearances will be the Malcolm Wilson Rally in the Lake District, a BTRDA Championship event on March 11 sponsored by the M-Sport team principal and based in his home town of Cockermouth.
Cronin will be one of a number of Irish drivers heading to Cumbria for a competitive shakedown outing ahead of the first BRC round, the Border Counties Rally in Scotland (March 17).
Desi Henry will also be making the trip with his Skoda Fabia as will Citroen driver Jonny Greer, winner of the first round of the Northern Ireland Championship a couple of weeks ago.
Former NI king Connor McCloskey launches his BTRDA Championship bid with his new WRC Ford Fiesta and Sean Devine makes his first appearance in some seven years in an R5 Fiesta.