Devastated Keith Cronin closes gap on Irish Tarmac leaders
Keith Cronin may have suffered the devastation of losing the Donegal International Rally to Manus Kelly by a mere half-a-second on the last of 20 special stages but he has moved himself back into contention for the Irish Tarmac Championship.
The Cork driver, who took maximum points from the first two rounds but then suffered setbacks on the Circuit of Ireland and the Rally of the Lakes, has closed within five of new joint leaders, Alastair Fisher and Sam Moffett, with Stephen Wright just a further point behind.
Fisher had been the leading championship contender until he hit a chicane during the Saturday leg, damaging a driveshaft of his R5 Ford Fiesta and falling back down the leaderboard. He eventually finished sixth behind the Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, and Wright.
They were the leading survivors of an absorbing rally in which five different drivers led at some point over the three days, the last of them, Kelly, only getting to the front for the first time when it mattered most - the end of the final stage.
He became just the fourth Donegal driver in over four decades to win his home international.
Former British champion David Bogie won the battle of the Ford Escorts in the national division after a flying Frank Kelly was slowed by a broken differential on Sunday.
Cronin and the rest of the Tarmac contenders move on to the Ulster Rally in August which this year is based in Londonderry when Marty McCormack plans to be back after being ruled out of this weekend's European championship Ypres Rally in Belgium. A heavy drilling rod fell on his hand at work and the former British junior champion has been told to rest it for a month.
Already on his way to Belgium is Callum Devine who produced another class-winning performance in Donegal, finishing 10th overall in his little Opel Adam.