Keith Cronin, the first Irish driver to win the British rally championship in over 30 years, is to step up to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for the final round in Scotland next month.
He will line up against new IRC champion Kris Meeke in a Super 2000 Abarth Grande Punto which will be run by the Italian Grifone team.
The 23-year-old from Ballylickey, Co Cork captured the British title on the final round in Yorkshire last month driving his privately run Mitsubishi Lancer and went on to win the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out, earning himself a fully-funded programme to defend the championship next year.
But Cronin has been keen to sample the global IRC series and has been working behind the scenes to secure the budget to hire an S2000 car for the Rally of Scotland on November 19-21.
The deal with Grifone has now been finalised and Cronin will have a first run in the Punto in Italy next week.
“I’m looking at the possibility of doing a number of IRC rounds as well as the British championship next season and this is an ideal opportunity to not only get a taste for the series but also drive a Super 2000 car in a competitive environment,” said Cronin.
He had been linked to a Skoda Fabia run by the Belgian Rene Georges team but it now seems this car may be driven by Meeke’s old rival from the Junior World championship, Guy Wilks.
The former British champion is believed to be one of five contenders to drive alongside Meeke in a Kronos Racing Peugeot 207 funded by tyre supplier BF Goodrich. A panel of journalists will choose the driver next week.