Belfast Telegraph

Cronin still in mix after surviving an early scare

By Sammy Hamill

Keith Cronin has given himself a shot at winning the most lucrative prize in European rallying.

His third place in the Citroen Top Driver series in France at the weekend will see the three-time British champion from Cork go into the final round on Wales Rally GB next month in second place, seven points behind leader Sebastien Chardonnet.

At stake will be a six-round programme of rallies, funded by the French manufacturer, in next year's World championship on board the new R5 version of Citroen's DS3.

But it so nearly went wrong for Cronin, driving for the Charles Hurst Belfast team and partnered by Fermanagh co-driver Marshall Clarke, on the first leg in Rally France.

He clipped a wall, spun his R2 Citroen, which is run by the Carryduff-based DGM team, and was lucky to get away with nothing worse than a 45-second time loss.

"It was a really difficult rally," he explained. "The conditions were treacherous from the start, but especially on Sunday when most of the stages were coated in mud and even Sebastien Loeb crashed.

"After losing the time on Friday we knew there was no way we could catch the French drivers on their home event so it was a matter of treating each stage individually and carefully and trying to get to the finish.

"We're still in the race for the Top Driver prize and hopefully it will be to our advantage that the last round is on gravel."

Belfast Telegraph

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